Foreign Minister calls for an end to Belgian weapon exports to Yemen.

The Foreign Minister in Belgium’s caretaker federal government Didier Reynders (Francophone liberal) has said that he wants Belgian arms manufacturers to stop exporting arms that as destined for the conflict in Yemen. This week a VRT News report showed that weapons made at the FN factory in Herstal, near Liège were being used in Yemen.    

Belgian weapon exports to Saudi Arabia have long been a source of controversy. On the one hand there is the fact that 15,000 people have jobs thanks to FN Herstal, while on the other hand there are issues of human rights abuses by the Saudis.  

Mr Reynders told VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De Ochtend’ that human rights considerations should always take precedence.    

This week’s VRT News report showed that parts of the tanks used by the Saudi National Guard in Yemen were built by FN Herstal. The Walloon Government that owns FN had always said that the FN weapons that had been exported to Saudi Arabia had not been deployed outside Saudi Arabia.

Mr Reynders position is clear. "We need to move towards a suspension of any further exports. There is now clear evidence that Belgian weapons are being used in the conflict”.

Mr Reynders would like there to be an ban on weapon exports to Saudi Arabia by countries from throughout the EU. However, other European countries aren’t prepared to introduce such a ban.

"Up until now the Walloon Region has always said that a European weapons embargo was needed.  However, my position, and I will make it clear to the Walloon Prime Minister that were need to move towards a suspension of all deliveries”.  

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