'France has urged Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to stop the “dirty war” on Yemen, but says, at the same time, that it will continue its controversial arms sales to the Persian Gulf states.
“Yes, it’s a dirty war, yes it has to be stopped, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates must stop” the fighting, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio on Tuesday.
“Yes, we must be extremely vigilant with arms sales to these two countries, which is what we are doing,” he said.
France is among the top weapons exporters to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, two key members of a coalition waging war on Yemen since March 2015. Tens of thousands have reportedly died since the onset of the warfare, which seeks to restore the former Yemeni officials, who are close to the Saudi kingdom.
Paris spurns accounts blaming it for selling weapons that are being used against civilians in the Arab world’s most impoverished nation. It also insists that the arms are being deployed in the service of “self defense.”
Last month, Disclose, an investigative reportage website, published findings from a classified French military note that said French weapons were being used in the war.
Three Disclose reporters were subsequently questioned by France’s domestic intelligence agency, a move that drew protests from press freedom advocates, AFP reported.
Disclose has also reported plans for loading weapons onto two France-bound Saudi-flagged vessels.
Pressure resulting from the first disclosure, which came earlier in May, prompted Riyadh to decide against picking up the cargo.
Later, the whistleblower said another Saudi Arabian cargo ship was set to arrive in the south of France on Tuesday to pick up munitions for French Caesar cannons.'
Read more: France blasts ‘dirty’ Saudi-led war, but keeps arms flow
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