Berlin rejects Israeli pressure over submarine sales to Egypt

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By Agence France-Presse Saturday, September 15, 2012 9:52 EDT

A German-built Type 209 attack submarine (AFP_File, Rodger Bosch)

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere dismissed Israeli pressure not to sell two submarines to Egypt, while acknowledging the country was “not as stable” as he would like in an interview published Saturday.

“No country in the world has the right of veto to decisions taken by the German government,” the minister told the Frankfurter Rundschau when asked to comment on the probable sale of two Type 209 attack submarines.

Questioned specifically about Israeli pressure not to go through with the deal, he repeated: “Nobody has the right of veto.”

However he admitted that Egypt “is not as stable as I would like”, while stressing this was a “personal point of view” and had “nothing to do with any possible transaction over submarines.”

German arms sales to foreign countries have to be approved by a federal security commission, whose discussions and decisions are not disclosed.

The Internet site of the weekly Der Spiegel on Tuesday revealed that the commission was due to discuss the proposed sale again even though it gave the green light in November 2011.

The agreement for Germany to supply Egypt with the two conventional diesel-electric submarines manufactured by ThyssenKrupp was first revealed by the commander in chief of the Egyptian Navy Osama al-Gindi two weeks ago in an Egyptian newspaper.

A few days later the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot quoted government sources as saying there had been “a marked deterioration in relations between Israel and Germany” over the deal.

The German government denied to the local media that there had been any such deterioration, while refusing to comment on the proposed sale.

Already in July last year Berlin sparked a row over its sale to 200 Leopard combat tanks to Saudi Arabia. Germany has always insisted that any arms sales to foreign governments are conditional on Israel’s security and respect for human rights.

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