*** ----> Germany resumes arms sales to Saudi Arabia with missile deal | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Germany resumes arms sales to Saudi Arabia with missile deal

AFP | Berlin, Germany                                                 

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Germany on Wednesday said it had approved the sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia, ending a blockade on direct arms exports to the Gulf kingdom in place since 2018.

Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit confirmed a report by German weekly Spiegel, which said Berlin had given the green light for the delivery of 150 Iris-T air-to-air missiles to Riyadh.

"The details of this report are accurate," said Hebestreit, speaking at a regular government news conference.

The Iris-T missiles could "be fired from aircraft at airborne targets, that is to say missiles, drones and so on", Hebestreit added.

Consent for the export of the missiles, manufactured by German group Diehl Defence, was granted towards the end of last year, Spiegel reported.

The approval marked a reversal in Germany's position on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, with Riyadh playing an important role in the region that has been rocked by wars in Gaza and Yemen.

The governing parties -- the Social Democrats, Greens and pro-business FDP -- signed a coalition agreement saying they would not approve exports to countries involved in the war in Yemen, among them Saudi Arabia.

But Berlin has loosened its stance, with the government praising Saudi Arabia's "constructive approach" in the Israel-Hamas war.

 - Veto end -

Saudi Arabia had not renounced plans to normalise relations with Israel since the beginning of its war with Hamas, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday on a visit to Israel.

Riyadh had also made efforts to intercept missiles fired at Israel by Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen.

"Saudi Arabia is a key contributor to Israel's security, even these days, and is helping to stem the risk of a regional conflagration," the minister said.

Berlin on Monday said it was also ready to allow the export to Saudi Arabia of Eurofighter jets, used by the kingdom's military to shoot down Huthi-fired missiles.

Until now, Germany had long used its veto rights as part of the defence partnership behind the jet to block a deal sought by London since 2018.

Huthi rebels have targeted Israel with missiles and drones, and attacked ships passing through a vital Red Sea shipping lane, with the group claiming to act in solidarity with Gaza.