A German-made Leopard battle tank (file photo)
Source: Press TV
Germany plans to sell 200 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia after lifting a decades-long ban on selling heavy weaponry to the Persian Gulf kingdom.
The German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported the decision on Saturday, saying the Federal Security Council approved the multi-billion-dollar sale last week.
Saudi officials held talks with the Spanish subsidiary of the US military-industrial complex corporation General Dynamics about buying their version of the Leopard tank, but a larger portion of the order will go to German companies Kraus-Maffei and Rheinmetall, the report said.
Under the deals announced by the German government, Saudi Arabia will receive 200 of the last generation of Leopard 2A7+ tanks -- the upgraded version of the German battle tank first presented in 2010.
Germany imposed a ban on the sale of advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, citing fears that they might be used against Israel.
The Saudis are also in talks with US companies to buy nearly 60 billion dollars worth of arms, including 84 new F-15 fighter jets and 178 combat helicopters.
The sales come at a time when Riyadh is being roundly censured for its military interventions in neighboring Bahrain and Yemen.
The Saudi army launched an all-out military offensive against Houthi fighters in Yemen's northern province of Sa'ada in 2010. In March 2011, the Saudis deployed troops to Bahrain to help the regime's forces crack down on nationwide protests.