74% of French people against weapons sales to Saudi: poll

Three out of four French people believe it is "unacceptable" to sell military weapons to Saudi Arabia, according to a poll published Monday.

The study by independent research group YouGov was commissioned by the anti-corporation lobby group SumOfUs to mark the third anniversary of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.

Several NGOs including Amnesty International are seeking to raise pressure on President Emmanuel Macron over French arms sales ahead of the visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Paris in early April.

Norway has suspended arms exports to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia's coalition partner in Yemen, while the new German government says no weapons will be supplied to countries involved in the conflict.

Seventy-four percent of French people questioned for the poll said they were against selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and 71 percent were against supplying to the United Arab Emirates.

France, one of the world's biggest arms exporters, continues to sell equipment to both countries and campaigners claim Paris does not have sufficient guarantees that the weapons will not be used in Yemen.

French exports have included Caesar artillery guns and ammunition, sniper rifles and armoured vehicles.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's office insists that the weapons sold to Saudi Arabia are for defence and are only being used to deter rebel attacks.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition of nine African and Middle Eastern countries intervened in the civil war in Yemen.

The coalition supports Yemeni pro-government forces against Huthi rebels, who are supported by Iran and control Sana'a, Yemen's capital.

Since then, nearly 10,000 Yemeni citizens have been killed in the conflict, and more than 53,000 have been injured.

The UN has called it the "worst humanitarian crisis" in the world.

The study was carried out online by YouGov on March 20-21 with a sample of 1,026 people aged 18 and over.


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