Connect to share and comment
Hillary Rodham Clinton has made an unannounced visit to Sanaa to press Yemeni leaders to do more in fighting extremism, which she said posed an "urgent threat" to America.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made an unannounced visit to Yemen on Tuesday to press Yemeni leaders to do more to crack down on extremism, which she said posed an "urgent threat" to America.
"I want to be frank. There are terrorists operating from Yemeni territory today, many of whom are not Yemeni, some of whom I'm sorry to say are American citizens. So this is an urgent concern for both of us," Clinton told a "town hall" style gathering of civil society figures in the capital, Sanaa, Reuters reported. "They have sought to attack our country ... So stopping these threats would be a priority for any nation, and it is for the United States."
Clinton's trip is seen as an effort to repair damaged ties with a problematic ally that is fast becoming the main focus of American counterterrorism efforts.
Yemen has been identified as the source of numerous attacks on the West in recent years, dating back to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor, which killed 17 American sailors. In December, several CIA operatives narrowly escaped an attack at a restaurant in a Sanaa suburb.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is thought to be behind the failed Christmas Day 2009 bombing of an American airliner landing in Detroit — specifically, the U.S.-Yemeni radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to be hiding in Yemen and is subject to a U.S. kill-or-capture order.
"Yemen recognizes the threat" posed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula "and has become increasingly committed to a broad-based counterterrorist strategy," Clinton told reporters in Sanaa, NPR reported.
Dialogue between the two countries has recently been complicated by the disclosure of secret U.S. diplomatic cables by the WikiLeaks website. One of those documents reported that a senior Yemeni official lied to parliament by denying the United States was involved in airstrikes against wanted targets.
Clinton, who is the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Yemen in 20 years, said the U.S. wanted to address the underlying causes of extremist violence, like poverty, social inequality and political divisions.
"We are committed to a balanced approach toward Yemen, which includes social, economic and political assistance," Clinton said. "We have rebalanced our aid package so it is not so disproportionately consisting of funding necessary for the counterterrorism agenda but also includes the other priorities."
The United States will provide about $300 million in aid to Yemen this year, including $130 million to $140 million in non-military aid, VOA reported.
The following is footage of a press conference after Clinton met with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Yemen's Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi on Jan. 27, 2010 in London. Clinton said at the time that Yemen and the world "can and must do more" on extremism.