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Saudi Arabia

Canada and Germany rethink Saudi defence deals after Khashoggi killing

  • Canada has deal with Riyadh for sale of light armoured vehicles
  • Germany puts arms sales to the oil-rich nation on hold
PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 October, 2018, 2:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 11:37am

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada could cancel a multibillion dollar defence contract with Saudi Arabia following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in an interview broadcast Sunday.

Trudeau, speaking on French-language talk show Tout Le Monde En Parle – recorded Thursday, before Riyadh confirmed Khashoggi’s death at its Istanbul consulate – insisted Canada would “always defend human rights, including with Saudi Arabia”.

Canadian military equipment sales regulations contain restrictions on human rights violations against the buying country’s citizens, and prohibit use against civilians.

Asked about a key deal with Riyadh for the sale of light armoured vehicles worth C$15 billion, Trudeau said “in this contract, there are clauses that must be followed in relation to the use of what is sold to them.”

“If they do not follow these clauses, we will definitely cancel the contract.”

Last year, Ottawa already expressed concern about the vehicles possibly being used in law enforcement operations in Saudi Arabia’s east.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Saturday branded Saudi Arabia’s explanations as not credible and demanded a thorough investigation.

Relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia have been tense in recent months.

After Canada criticised the Saudi arrest of human rights activists, the kingdom retaliated by expelling the Canadian ambassador, recalling its own envoy to Ottawa and freezing trade and investment between the two countries.

On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country would not export arms to Saudi Arabia amid the uncertainty around Khashoggi’s death.

“As far as weapons exports, which are already limited, are concerned, they cannot take place in the same fashion as they are now,” Merkel said in Berlin after a meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party’s executive.

German arms exports are subject to government approval, including cabinet review. Saudi Arabia ranked sixth last year with approved sales of 254 million (US$292 million), mostly reflecting deliveries of patrol boats, according to a government report published in June.

“As long as there’s a continuing investigation, as long as we don’t know what happened, I believe there is no basis for positive decisions on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with broadcaster ARD.

US President Donald Trump has said the incident shouldn’t jeopardise US weapon sales to Saudi Arabia or other potential investments, which he says are worth a total of US$450 billion.

Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg