German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel attend a meeting of the German Federal Parliament. (Michael Sohn/AP Photo)Saudi Arabia's execution of 47 people earlier this month, including a prominent Shiite cleric, has renewed calls on the federal Liberal government to suspend the lucrative deal between Saudi Arabia and General Dynamics Land Systems. The Liberals, like the Conservatives before them, have said they will not cancel the deal. But Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has criticized Saudi Arabia for the mass executions and is considering releasing a partially censored version of the latest human rights assessment of the country. German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who is also the country's economic affairs minister, says all pending arms deals between German firms and Saudi Arabia will be closely monitored. "We must now review whether in future we should take a more critical stance on defensive armaments, which we have so far sold to Saudi Arabia for its national defence," Gabriel said in a statement following the recent Saudi executions.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has criticized Saudi Arabia over the executions. (Photo: CP)A spokesman for Gabriel's office said the department has recently blocked export approval to Saudi Arabia for "offensive weapons" such as battle tanks and the G36 assault rifle because they could be used for "oppressive measures." Gabriel has taken a hard line towards Saudi arms exports since becoming economic affairs minister two years ago. The portfolio gives him final say over Germany's exports, and his tough stance has sent ripples through the German defence industry. A German official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Gabriel has been making "a distinction between what we call 'offensive goods' and what we call 'defensive goods.'" Gabriel has said he will continue to critically review the export of so-called defensive goods.
"We've taken a more critical or more restrictive point of view in the past already."
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