Macron defends Saudi arms sales
PARIS – Reuters
President Emmanuel Macron has defended French weapons sales to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, also saying that he was concerned by the humanitarian situation and would host a conference on the issue before the summer.
Pressure has been mounting on Macron to scale back arms support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which are leading the coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi group that controls most of northern Yemen and the capital Sanaa.
The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced more than 3 million, with no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough to ease the crisis.
Seventy-five percent of French people want Macron to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a YouGov poll found. Several rights groups also have warned of possible legal action if the government does not halt its sales.
“Since the start of the conflict in Yemen, France has adopted a very specific process whereby all sales of military equipment are analysed on a case-by-case basis and on the basis of reinforced criteria that reflect respect for international humanitarian law and the risk of harm to civilian populations,” Macron said at a news conference alongside Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
France is the world’s third biggest arms exporter and counts the two countries among its biggest purchasers.