UAE to discuss al Qa'eda role in Yemen

The UAE will take part in an international conference in London later this month to discuss the rising influence of al Qa'eda in Yemen.

ABU DHABI // The UAE will take part in an international conference in London later this month to discuss the rising influence of al Qa'eda in Yemen, a diplomatic source said yesterday. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed will attend the conference, said the source, who asked not to be named. "It is to show support for the government of Yemen for its efforts in the fight against insurgency," the source said.

Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, called for the meeting on Yemen. It will be held on January 28 in conjunction with a conference on Afghanistan. "The international community must not deny Yemen the support it needs to tackle extremism," Mr Brown said earlier this month. Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been politically and socially unstable since north and south Yemen united in 1990.

The Yemeni army has been involved in an ongoing major offensive against al Houthi rebels in the northern part of the country. But the US and other international players warned in recent months about the growing influence of al Qa'eda in Yemen. Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr al Qirbi, estimated this month that the number of al Qa'eda operatives in his country could be as high as 300. The diplomatic source said participation in the meeting was part of the UAE's continued support of the Yemeni government.

Asked if the UAE would pledge financial support, he said: "Financial support to Yemen is non-stop; it doesn't need a regional conference. If you give them money, support the government's work and take part in conference, that should do." The Government last month pledged Dh2.4 billion (US$650 million) to help Yemen reverse the instability. mhabboush@thenational.ae

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