BONN (Oct. 14)
Germany has decided to provide Saudi Arabia with sophisticated weapons, with deliveries to commence some time next year, Saudi diplomats indicated here Sunday.
They said a broad understanding on “defense cooperation” was reached when the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, visited Bonn last week for talks with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.
The diplomats, who spoke on condition they not be identified, indicated that Prince Saud had convinced the German leadership last Thursday that there was no reason why Bonn should refrain from supplying arms to his country.
There was no official confirmation by German authorities.
In fact, on the very morning of Prince Saud’s visit, Defense Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg said the government had decided to reject the Saudi arms request at this time due in part to the explosive situation in the Persian Gulf.
But the Saudi foreign minister urged Bonn to play a more active role in the Gulf conflict. He emphasized that his country needed military hardware to repel a possible Iraqi attack.
According to observers here, the government publicly turned down the Saudi arms request to avoid a dispute with the opposition Social Democratic Party less than two months before the first all-German parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place.
There were indications, however, that Bonn would confirm arms sales to the Saudis at some point in the future, probably next year.
Officials meanwhile confirmed that a secret body in the government of what was then West Germany had approved late last year the shipment of Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Saudi Arabia.
No deliveries have been made as yet, the officials said.