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Denmark halts Saudi weapons sales over Khashoggi, Yemen war

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen gives a press conference [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 November, 2018

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The Scandinavian country is now the second EU state after Germany to halt sales over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Denmark on Thursday suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the second country do so after Germany.

"The foreign ministry is suspending all sales of weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia," Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said.

"I hope that the Danish decision can create additional momentum," he added.

A foreign ministry spokesman said Copenhagen was not considering other sanctions for the moment.

On Monday, Germany decided to bar 18 Saudis from entering its territory and Europe's Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to the murder.

In October, Berlin called for EU countries to follow its lead and suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia for the time being, prompting a dismissive response from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Switzerland, which halted arms sales to Saudi Arabia in 2009 with the exception of spare weapons parts as well as munitions for air defence systems and firearms for private use, also said in late October it would halt all deliveries of spare weapons parts. 

In early November, Norway announced it would suspend new licences for export defence-related equipment to Saudi Arabia, but cited its war in Yemen as the impetus. 

Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, killed and dismembered.

After initially insisting that Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, then saying he died in a "fistfight" during an interview, Saudi authorities admitted responsibility and said 21 people had been taken into custody. 

A leaked CIA analysis to the US media went further, reportedly pointing the finger at the powerful crown prince and de facto Saudi leader known by his initials as MbS.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday said criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a "red line", and that calls for him to be held accountable for the grisly killing would not be tolerated.

Khashoggi's murder has sorely strained relations between Saudi Arabia and the West and has fuelled international debate about arms deliveries to the kingdom.

But US President Donald Trump, who made his first foreign visit to the kingdom and has made MbS and Riyadh as the lynchpin of his regional strategy to contain Iran, said his support for the kingdom was "steadfast".

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