Spain’s Socialist prime minister defended Wednesday arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia, saying it was in the country’s “interests” to keep selling military hardware to the kingdom.
“If you ask me where I stand today, it is in the defense of the interests of Spain, of jobs in strategic sectors in areas badly affected by the drama that is unemployment,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament.
Spain’s state-owned shipbuilder Navantia in July signed a deal worth 1.8 billion euros ($2.0 billion) to supply Saudi Arabia with five navy ships.
The shipbuilder is located in the southern region of Andalusia, a socialist bastion which has one of Spain’s highest unemployment rates and which will hold regional elections in December.
The government had earlier said it would block the export of the weapons but Sanchez justified the about face at the time on the grounds that it was needed to preserve good ties with the Gulf state, a key commercial partner for Spain.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that it would be “extremely difficult” to cancel a 2014 blockbuster sale of armored personnel carriers to Saudi Arabia Without “paying exorbitant penalties”.