The German government has halted further arms exports to Saudi Arabia in the midst of an investigation into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Reuters reported that German economy minister Peter Altmaier said the government is “in agreement” that it will not approve additional arms exports and would make a decision “very soon” on whether to roll back previously agreed to deals with the Saudis.
The decision came shortly after German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced support for ending weapons exports to Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi’s death.
Altmaier called on other European Union members to take similar action, arguing that Germany acting alone would limit the message to Riyadh.
“Only if all European countries are in agreement, it will make an impression on the government in Riyadh. It will not have any positive consequences if we halt arms exports but other countries at the same time fill the gap,” he said, according to Reuters.
Saudi Arabia initially denied it knew what happened following Khashoggi’s disappearance. The journalist and U.S. resident was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
On Friday, the kingdom announced 18 people had been arrested after Khashoggi died in what it claimed was a fight gone awry.
U.S. lawmakers have pushed back, calling the explanation not credible and noted that the Saudis had shifted their account of what happened to the Washington Post columnist. Senators have pledged Saudi Arabia will face consequences for Khashoggi’s death.
President Trump has also vowed “severe” punishment in the journalist’s killing but has repeatedly said he does not want to touch U.S.-Saudi arms deals for economic reasons.
BY BRETT SAMUELS – 10/22/18