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Saudi FM: Claims US curbing weapons sales 'contradict reality'

Saudi Arabia has faced heavy criticism for its military campaigns in Yemen [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 December, 2016

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Reports have claimed this week that Washington was ready to curb the supply of precision weapons to Riyadh due to concerns over it's military campaigns in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Sunday that recent comments from US officials stating that Washington had decided to curb arms sales to Riyadh due to concerns over their use in attacks killing civilians “contradicts reality”.

On Tuesday an anonymous US official said that Washington had decided to halt the delivery of precision munitions to Riyadh due to perceived “systematic, endemic” problems in Saudi Arabia’s aerial operations in Yemen.

However, speaking on Sunday alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry, al-Jubeir said that “The kingdom has received nothing official from the American government in this regard” adding that the “leaked” news “contradicts reality”.

Over 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s ongoing 20-month old war which has also triggered chronic food shortages in the country. 

Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the US and other countries including the UK and France to discontinue selling munitions to Riyadh, particularly after a Saudi-led airstrike targeting a funeral attended by Houthi officials resulted in at least 140 deaths in October. 

"This news that has been leaked contradicts reality ... The kingdom has received nothing official from the American government in this regard"
Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister 

For his part Kerry struck a similar tone to al-Jubeir stating that he was working to see sales moved “forward”.

The US Secretary of State also expressed optimism that a cessation of hostilities in Yemen could be reached by Riyadh through negotiations “in two weeks”.

Previous ceasefires in Yemen have struggled to hold and have routinely given way to further rounds of violence.

In addition to Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, Houthi fighters have also targeted Saudi territory in cross-border rocket attacks, and fired on US vessels in the Straits of Hormuz, prompting retaliatory US fire

"Our immediate priority is to end the bloodshed and that's why re-establishing the ceasefire is so critical," said Kerry.

“In turbulent times, it’s good to have solid friends,” Kerry told journalists.

“That’s why the United States’ partnership with Saudi Arabia is rightly so valuable.”

"We think we've found the path to move forward and invite the parties, President Hadi, the Houthis and the supporters of both sides to take advantage of this moment to try to come to the table and to try to frame an end.”

Yemen’s ongoing civil war pits Iran-backed Houthi forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against the Saudi-supported exiled government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The United States sells more military equipment to Saudi Arabia than any other country, followed by the UK, and France. 

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