Philippines

Spain prime minister defends weapons sale to Saudis

U-TURN. In this file photo taken on August 03, 2018 Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez gives a press conference after a cabinet meeting at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid on August 3, 2018. Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

U-TURN. In this file photo taken on August 03, 2018 Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez gives a press conference after a cabinet meeting at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid on August 3, 2018. Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

MADRID, Spain – Spain's prime minister on Sunday, September 17, defended his government's controversial decision to go ahead with the delivery of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, saying it was needed to preserve good ties with the Gulf state.

The Socialist government of Pedro Sanchez announced earlier this month that it would block the delivery of the weapons amid concerns that they could harm civilians in Yemen where Saudi Arabi is engaged in a bloody conflict.

But on Thursday Foreign Minister Josep Borrell announced the government had decided to deliver the weapons after all, angering humanitarian groups.

Cancellation of the deal would jeopardize a much larger order for five Corvette warships worth 1.8 billion euros, to be built by Spain's Navantia shipyard in the southern region of Andalusia, with thousands of jobs at stake.

Workers in the region, a stronghold of the ruling Socialist Party, had staged demonstrations pressing for the deal to go ahead.

Asked about the policy reversal during an interview with private television La Sexta, Sanchez said his government risked "creating the image that it was revising its entire relationship" with Saudi Arabia if it did not deliver the weapons.

"The situation was very complicated. The dilemma the government faced was breaking its commercial, economic and political ties with Saudi Arabia, with the impact this could have in some areas of the country, such as the Bay of Cadiz, or carry out a contract signed by the previous government," he added.

Saudi Arabia, a longtime ally, had already paid $10.7 million for the bombs under a 2015 contract signed by a previous, conservative administration in Spain.

Apart from the warship deal, Madrid has obtained juicy engineering contracts to build a high-speed railway linking Mecca and Medina, and a metro in Riyadh.

Spain is the 4th largest provider of military equipment and weapons to the Gulf state, according to Amnesty International.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other allies intervened in 2015 after Huthi rebels ousted the government from the capital Sanaa and seized swathes of the country. – Rappler.com

Football news:

This is the best Milan in years: superkambekom with Juve (3 goals in 5 minutes!) saved the intrigue in Serie A
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: I am the President, player and coach! If I had been in Milan since the start of the season, we would have taken the scudetto
Sarri on the defeat by Milan: we played first-class football for 60 minutes. Then-turbidity
Pioli on the victory over Juve: Milan became a team. We can play even better
Pioli beat Juventus for the first time as a coach
Vardy has scored 10 goals for Arsenal in Premier League matches. Only Rooney has more
Ronaldo scores or gives an assist in 17 consecutive Serie A matches, where he scored 25 (21+4) points