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Germany confirms Qatar 'interest' in buying tanks

BERLIN: Germany confirmed on Monday that Qatar had expressed interest in a major arms deal after reports the emirate was set to buy 200 Leopard-2 tanks for some two billion euros.

German government spokesman Georg Streiter told a regular news conference: "I know that there has been a statement of interest" although he declined to confirm that negotiations had already taken place.

News weekly Spiegel reported Sunday the Qataris were interested in acquiring the Leopard-2 tanks and that a delegation from manufacturers Krauss-Maffei Wegmann had already travelled to Qatar to discuss the possible deal.

The value of the potential deal was around 2.0 billion euros ($2.5 billion), Spiegel said.

Last month, Saudi Arabia expressed interest in buying between 600 and 800 Leopard-2 tanks, Germany's main battle tank, for up to 10 billion euros, according to media reports.

The reported sale caused difficulties for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who came under fire from opposition politicians and even members of her own ruling centre-right coalition in light of pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East.

 
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