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article imageStopping Saudi arms sales over Khashoggi 'pure demagoguery', Macron says

By AFP     Oct 26, 2018 in World

Halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be "pure demagoguery", French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday.

The sale of weapons "has nothing to do with Mr Khashoggi. One shouldn't mix everything up," he said at a press conference during a visit to Bratislava.

If sanctions are called for, "this should be a European response, across the board," but only "once all the facts are known", he said.

Earlier this week, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux also suggested France might take "punitive measures", but only if Saudi Arabia was "proven" to be behind the murder at its consulate in Istanbul of Khashoggi, a harsh critic of the Saudi government.

Riyadh was the second-biggest purchaser of French weapons between 2008 and 2017, after India, with deals amounting to some 12 billion euros ($13.8 billion).

On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin would suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi's murder.

"I agree with all those who say when it comes to our already limited arms exports (to Saudi Arabia) that they cannot take place in the current situation," she said.

Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said later that European nations should take a joint stance on whether to halt arms exports.

Altmaier, a close Merkel confidant, underlined that "there won't be any positive effects if only we halt exports and then other countries fill the gap".

"Only when all European nations are in agreement will this make an impression on Riyadh," he said on public television.

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