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Sweden ends arms sales to two Mideast states

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08:52 CET+01:00
Sweden has halted the deliveries of weapons to two Middle Eastern and North African countries due to the civil unrest gripping the region, the head of a government agency said on Wednesday.

"We have withdrawn licences (for weapons exports) to two countries ... due

to the situation in the region," Andreas Ekman Duse, the head of the Swedish

Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (ISP), told AFP.

"We cannot say which countries, due to commercial and diplomatic classified information," he said.

His agency, which controls Sweden's exports of military equipment, would closely watch the situation, and the licences could be restored "if the development in these countries goes in a democratic direction," he said, adding "when that will happen I cannot say."

The Local reported on Wednesday that ISP had meanwhile also announced on Wednesday that Sweden last year saw its military equipment exports rise one percent to 13.7 billion kronor ($2.15 billion).

Around 70 percent of that went to the European Union, the United States and

South Africa, with the number boosted by a larger order of 90 tanks to the Netherlands and Sweden's ongoing deliveries of JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to

South Africa.

Another 20-some countries accounted for the remainder of exports, and the Scandinavian country for instance raked in 804 million kronor from weapons

sales to the United Arab Emirates and 246 million kronor from sales to Saudi

Arabia, ISP said in a statement.

Sweden is the 11th largest arms exporter, according to figures for 2009 compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

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