COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish Defence Minister Jacob Ellemann-Jensen dismissed his ministry's permanent secretary of state on Friday after criticism over the handling of an artillery arms purchase from Israel.
Denmark agreed in January to purchase artillery systems from Israel's Elbit Systems worth 1.74 billion Danish crowns ($256 million) after having donated much of its own weapon systems to Ukraine.
Ahead of the deal, the ministry rushed parliament's finance committee to approve the purchase, saying the company's offer would expire at the end of the month. But the ministry acknowledged earlier this week that Elbit's offer expired only at the end of June.
Ellemann-Jensen apologised earlier this week for his handling of the case and said he had not deliberately provided incorrect information to parliament.
But he called a meeting with members of parliament on Friday and told them he had learned that information he had communicated to parliament earlier in the week was missing important details.
"It is an overall assessment that the close and trusting cooperation that is needed between a minister and a permanent secretary is no longer possible, especially in light of the large and important tasks facing the armed forces," Ellemann-Jensen told reporters after the meeting.
NATO-member Denmark has pledged to increase defence spending to 2% of GDP and said it will spend 143 billion crowns on defence over the next 10 years.
In January, the finance committee was also told that other weapons manufacturers, including France's Nexter Systems and South Korean Hanwha Systems, would have longer delivery times than the one year offered by Elbit Systems.
However, Nexter Systems said in late January it could deliver new weapons to Denmark at the end of 2023, and has denied telling the Danish defence ministry that the company could deliver only after two years.
($1 = 6.7940 Danish crowns)
(Reporting by Johannes Birkebaek and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Frances Kerry)