Thursday, May 09, 2013

Germany to sell 164 tanks to Indonesia

Germany has agreed to sell 164 tanks to Indonesia, information released by the government showed Wednesday, after the Dutch parliament rejected a similar request over human rights concerns.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has given the green light to Duesseldorf-based weapons maker Rheinmetall AG to sell the tanks to the Southeast Asian country, an opposition lawmaker's request for information showed.

The shipment includes 104 Leopard 2 battle tanks and 50 older Marder 1A2s infantry fighting vehicles.

The deal with Southeast Asia's biggest economy also includes 10 other tanks, including vehicles used in mountain terrain, mobile bridge layers and armoured earth movers. The total price of the contract was not known.

Merkel's national security council decides on arms export licences in closed meetings.

The confirmation came from a formal request for information on arms deals approved since November, made by Greens party lawmaker Katha Keil and published on her website.

Her party has voiced concern that Indonesia, which has often been criticised for rights abuses by Amnesty International and other groups, could deploy the weapons against protesters and ethnic minorities.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, had first requested the tanks in 2012 during a visit by Merkel, pledging not to use the weapons against its own people.

Opposition parties in Indonesia's former colonial power the Netherlands had stopped a proposed tank deal with the country, citing the risk Jakarta would use them to suppress Christian and other minorities.

The Merkel government has promoted weapons sales to countries it considers strategic partners and also recently approved controversial weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.-ABS-CBN News

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