Niebel says arms sales ‘compatible’ with human rights

Development Minister Dirk Niebel has waded into the controversy surrounding a deal to sell tanks to Saudi Arabia, saying German weapons exports can be compatible with human rights by stabilizing an entire region.

In an interview with the weekly Die Zeit newspaper, Niebel said he could not comment on specifically on reports that the government intends to sell Leopard 2 battle tanks to the Middle Eastern Kingdom, but said Berlin would not make such a decision lightly.

“Generally the government considers all necessary aspects when making such decisions – including the political situation of the entire region. Germany has a high standing there,” he said.

And when asked whether such a trade would be consistent with his ministry’s position on human rights, he said, “The stabilisation of a region contributes to the defence of human rights – perhaps not in the country in which one is active, but in the neighbouring countries.”

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