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Spain to go ahead with military support aircraft sales to Egypt

But no new licenses for arms deals with troubled state will be issued, interministerial council decides

Spain will continue to export military transport aircraft to Egypt despite a partial embargo imposed last week by the European Union on arms sales to the country after a military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mohamed Morsi.

The Foreign Ministry was expected to recommend the continued supply of these aircraft to the Interministerial Council for Defense Material, which controls arms sales and includes representatives from the Defense, Trade and Interior ministries, diplomatic sources confirmed Wednesday.

The foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states recommended suspending the delivery to Egypt of any military materiel that could be used in the repression of protestors, demanding Morsi’s reinstatement after the army violently removed encampments set up by the deposed president’s supporters in Cairo, killing hundreds.

More than 90 percent of military sales to Egypt in Spain, which were worth 50 million euros last year, are of C-295 military transport aircraft supplied by Airbus Military’s facilities at Seville’s San Pablo Airport. In 2010 the Egyptian army acquired three C-295s and later increased its order to 12. Although the use of these aircraft is to transport troops and hardware, the Spanish government has opted to decipher the EU recommendation selectively and exclude transport planes from the embargo, which specifically covers firearms, replacement parts for heavy caliber machine guns and tank treads, but not non-attack aircraft, electronic systems or dual-use goods.

Following the coup d’état of July 3, Spain suspended the concession of new licenses for arms sales to Egypt but did not revoke current ones. At Wednesday’s meeting the possibility of revoking some was to be discussed, but not those of military aircraft, which make up the bulk of Spain’s trade with Egypt.