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Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 12:00 GMT
Blair 'tightens' Zimbabwe arms sales

The UK has supplied spares for Zimbabwe's jets


UK policy on arms sales to Zimbabwe has been tightened, according to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The announcement follows widespread criticism of the government's decision to allow the export of spare parts for Hawk jets which have been used by Zimbabwe in the war in the Congo.

The "tightening" of the regulations affects the whole of central Africa, with six nations being covered.

But the original decision to sell the Hawk parts, which caused disquiet within the cabinet itself, will not be revoked.

In a parliamentary written answer, Mr Blair said: "We will not grant export licences for new military dual-use equipment where there is a clear risk that it would be used in the DRC.

"We will continue to implement rigorously our national criteria and the EU code of conduct for all applications for Standard Individual Export Licences, examining each on a case-by-case basis.

"This will include applications to provide spares for UK equipment already supplied under pre-existing contracts. In reaching decisions on such individual applications, we will take into account the wider implications of forcing UK companies to break existing obligations."

EU code already broken

Exactly what equipment will be covered by the move has not been made clear by the government.

Responding to Mr Blair's answer for the Liberal Democrats, foreign affairs spokeswoman Jenny Tonge told BBC News Online she welcomed the move.

But she added, that the decision had come "too late".

"The government granting of licences to Zimbabwe in the first place went against the EU code of conduct on arms sales which it has signed up to."

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See also:
20 Jan 00 |  Africa
Zimbabwe's costly Congo venture
20 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Row over jet exports to Zimbabwe

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