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Secretary of State Clinton’s Unannounced Visit to Yemen *UPDATED*

January 11, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) talks to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh at the Presidential Palace in Sanaa January 11, 2011.

Secretary Clinton arrived in Yemen, an unannounced stop on her Persian Gulf tour. The trip had not been announced for security reasons:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in the Yemeni capital on Tuesday in a rare visit intended to strengthen U.S. ties with an impoverished country that is increasingly at the heart of U.S. efforts against al-Qaeda.

Clinton’s visit, which was kept under wraps as a security precaution, is the first by a U.S. secretary of state since a brief stop by then-Secretary of State James A. Baker III in 1990. The nine-hour visit was expected to include wide-ranging talks with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as meetings with opposition leaders and ordinary Yemeni citizens.

In brief remarks to reporters after arriving in Sanaa, Clinton said the Obama administration had “rebalanced” its aid package to Yemen, which last year jumped to $300 million in combined military and non-military support. Economic assistance this year will total more than $130 million, up from $16 million in 2008.

She praised the Saleh government for its cooperation in battling al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula., an al-Qaeda offshoot.

“Yemen recognizes the threat that AQAP poses to it, and it has become increasingly committed to a broad-based counterterrorism strategy,” Clinton said.

Shortly before departing for Yemen, Clinton praised what she said was “increasingly, a very strong partnership” with the country’s leaders in fighting terrorism. But she said the Obama administration would seek a more comprehensive strategy to help Yemenis to overcome formidable problems that have made the region a magnet for arms-trafficking and extremist groups.

“It’s not enough to have military-to-military relations,” Clinton said. “We need to try to broaden the dialogue.”

….

The Secretary’s brief remarks with President Saleh:

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me thank, on behalf of my entire delegation, the president for his very warm hospitality today. As I told the president, we are committed to a broad relationship between our two countries. We face a common threat posed by the terrorists and al-Qaida, but our partnership goes beyond counterterrorism. We are focused not just on short-term threats, but long-term challenges. Yemen has announced a number of reforms that we in the international community look forward to supporting in the economic, social, and political sectors. We support an inclusive political process that will, in turn, support a unified, prosperous, stable, democratic Yemen.

And above all, the United States is committed to the people of Yemen, Mr. President. We want this to be a relationship not just between leaders and governments, but between the people of Yemen and the people of the United States of America. Thank you again, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT SALEH: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir.

Yemeni Foreign Minister al-Qaerbi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she arrives at the Presidential Palace in Sanaa January 11, 2011.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2011 10:41 am

    This comment isn’t related to Yemen, but to the Middle East. Nice to read a positive story about the area…

    Muslims Act as Human Shields for Coptic Christians in Egypt –

    In Egypt, millions of Coptic Christians celebrated Christmas on Friday as the community continues to reel from the New Year’s Day church bombing that killed 21 people and injured dozens more. In a sign of solidarity, thousands of Muslims gathered on Thursday night to protect Egyptian Copts as they celebrated Christmas Eve. Acting as human shields, the Muslims surrounded churches in an attempt to prevent any more attacks. The Muslims organized under the slogan: “We either live together, or we die together.”

  2. Seamus permalink
    January 11, 2011 12:52 pm

    You rock Stacy, thanks for the update.

    So do you think she’ll swing by Sudan? I know you mentioned that last week. They wouldn’t announce it because of security concerns right?

    Question- I was reading the last couple of state dept. daily press briefings and I am amazed at the softball questions the media toss out. Jesus, even I could answer most those questions. Why don’t the media ask harder questions? It’s like the media want to avoid any controversy but is that their job?

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