UK not ‘ashamed’ of selling weapons to Middle East: Cameron

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron has defended his position over the sale of weapons to Middle East, saying that the UK has ‘nothing to be ashamed of’ for selling weapons to Arab leaders.

After being criticised for taking eight arms manufacturers on his ongoing tour of the Middle East despite concerns that British-made equipment had been used by the Gaddafi regime to suppress unrest in Libya, Cameron accused his critics of being ‘at odds with reality’, the Daily Mail reports.

Marking the 20th anniversary of Kuwait’s liberation from Saddam Hussein’s forces, Cameron said that he failed to understand why his attempts to boost British defence sales in such a volatile region are being vehemently opposed.

“A properly regulated trade in defence is nothing we should be ashamed of. The fact that there are British defence companies on this visit - BAe, Thales and others - is perfectly right in this regard,” he said.

According to ADS, the body that represents UK companies, an estimated 7.2 billion pounds worth of British defence exports are sold every year, half of which go to Middle Eastern countries.

Although the UK Foreign Office had cancelled a series of export licences for Libya and Bahrain following the massive protests in those countries, Cameron insisted that there is no harm in doing business with allies like Kuwait.

“The idea that Kuwait should not be able to have its own armed forces able to defend its own country, I find an extraordinary argument to make when we helped liberate the country. We have probably the toughest set of export rules probably anywhere in the world. It is obviously difficult to get it right on every occasion,” Cameron added. (ANI)

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