Canada is lifting a freeze on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and has renegotiated a much-criticized $14 billion contract to sell General Dynamics Corp armored vehicles to Riyadh, Ottawa said on Thursday. The “significant improvements” to the contract would secure thousands of jobs at the U.S. firm’s Canadian subsidiary, where the vehicles are being made, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said.
By David Ljunggren
Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis
The announcement marks a retreat by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said in December 2018 he was looking for a way out of the deal. A month earlier the government had frozen new permits pending a review. Some exports though continued under permits which had already been issued.
Human rights groups and political opponents, citing the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemen war, had insisted Ottawa scrap a deal agreed by the previous Conservative government in 2014.
Champagne said that under the terms of the renegotiated agreement, Canada could delay or cancel permits without penalty if it discovered Saudi Arabia was not using the vehicles for their stated purpose. Ottawa would also boost its scrutiny of all proposed weapons sales, he added. READ MORE OF THE REUTERS STORY HERE