Spain’s Socialist prime minister on Wednesday defended arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia despite an outcry over the murder of a Saudi journalist, saying it was in the country’s “interests” to keep selling military hardware to the kingdom.

“If you ask me where I stand today, it is in the defence of the interests of Spain, of jobs in strategic sectors in areas badly affected by the drama that is unemployment,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament.

Spain’s state-owned shipbuilder Navantia in July signed a deal worth €1.8 billion ($2.0 billion) to supply oil-rich Saudi Arabia with five navy ships.

The shipbuilder is located in the southern region of Andalusia, a socialist bastion which has one of Spain’s highest unemployment rates and which will hold regional elections in December.

Sanchez said he shared the “dismay and condemnation” of international public opinion regarding the “horrible assassination” of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

But the “seriousness of these horrible events which I unequivocally condemn can not and should not prevent us from acting responsibly,” he added.

Catalan separatist parties and far-left party Podemos, whose support Sanchez’s minority government depends on, have called on the government to suspend Spain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabi in protest against Khashoggi’s murder.

Sanchez’s government came under fire in September after it decided to go ahead with the delivery of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, amid concerns that they could harm civilians in Yemen where the kingdom is engaged in a bloody conflict.