France, Britain halt arms sales to Bahrain

Feb. 19, 2011 at 9:58 PM
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PARIS, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Britain and France have curtailed arms sales to Bahrain in the wake of government crackdowns on mass protests and France has also suspended sales to Libya.

The French government said Thursday there was "excessive use of force" employed in both Bahrain and Libya, as well as Yemen, Radio France Internationale reported. Officials said sales of security equipment would be suspended because of police killings of protesters.

British Foreign Secretary Alistair Burt announced Thursday that 44 arms export licenses for Bahrain had been suspended, Sky News reported. He said they included licenses to export tear gas and riot control equipment.

"We are deeply concerned about the situation in Bahrain and the events which have led to the deaths of several protesters," he said.

The wave of mass protest sweeping the Middle East began in Tunisia. French officials have said exports of security equipment to the government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced out by the demonstrations, were canceled, but French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has been criticized for close ties to the regime.

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