BERLIN - Saudi Arabia wants to buy 600 to 800 Leopard battle tanks from Germany, at least twice the number previously expected, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.

A deal for around 300 tanks was about to be signed, Bild am Sonntag newspaper said in a report sent to Reuters ahead of publication.

The newspaper said that while there was opposition to the deal in Germany's Chancellery, Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry, there was support for it within the Economy Ministry.

"The Saudi order could secure the future of German tank-makers Krauss-Maffei Wegman and Rheinmetall, which urgently need new markets because of the restructuring of the German army," said Bild am Sonntag.

A German government spokeswoman declined to comment.

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