Spanish PM defends Congress decision on arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-24 20:17:25|Editor: xuxin
Video PlayerClose

MADRID, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday defended the decision taken by the Spanish Congress to maintain arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the light of the case of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Although he told the Spanish Congress that his government "defended human rights, peace and freedom," and expressed his "repulsion" over Khashoggi's death, Sanchez said Spain would also continue to sell arms to the Saudis as it was in "Spain's interests" to do so.

"I defend the interests of Spain and I assume the international obligations," said Sanchez in Wednesday's appearance in the Congress.

"I have to concede interests from one perspective that others don't have, and have a long term view," commented the Prime Minister, adding he had to think about "what most interests society" and the need to "care for judicial security and contractual obligations."

The Spanish government in September performed a U-turn on a decision to block the sale of 400 bombs to Saudi Arabia after the bombing of a school bus in Yemen, due to fears the decision would lead the Saudi's cancelling of a contract for the construction of five corvettes in shipyards in the Bay of Cadiz in the community of Andalusia in southwest Spain.

This contract is worth around 1.8 billion euros and generates around 6,000 jobs in one of the regions with the highest unemployment rates in Spain. Losing the contract would also be a blow to Sanchez's Socialist Party who recently called elections for the Andalusian regional assembly for the beginning of December.

Sanchez highlighted that the contract was signed by the former People's Party (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy and explained that it fulfilled both Spanish and international obligations over arms exports.

PP leader Pablo Casado made no reference to an arms embargo in his appearance in Congress, while the leader of center-right party, Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera said Spain should respect its current contracts while revising future arms sales.