Yemen Hits Back at US Charges of Being Safe Haven for Terrorists
Yemen hit back Saturday after the United States said part of the country was a "safe haven" for terrorists, reported (AFP)
"Yemen has never been a haven for terrorists," a foreign ministry spokesman said, two days after suspected suicide bombers killed 17 US sailors in Aden.
Yen "has condemned terrorism and fought all types of terrorism wherever it originates, and it does not accept the presence of any terrorist on its territory," the spokesman said in comments carried by the official SABA news agency.
"Yemen has suffered from terrorists' acts against its security and stability, and it has always called for joint international efforts to combat the phenomenon, which is a permanent threat to peace in the world," he added.
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday that Yemen had in recent years vastly improved its counter-terrorism record, which had long concerned Washington.
Still, Boucher said there were worries that lax enforcement of security procedures and the lack of government control in some parts of the country made Yemen a "safe haven" for some terrorist groups.
Washington was, at the same time, concerned about statements made by Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh calling for Arabs to provide military support to the Palestinians against Israel.
"We are indeed aware of those statements, and we were going to take them up with the government," Boucher said. "At this point, certainly we have concerns about statements like that."
Saleh called for arms and fighters to help the Palestinians and urged Arab countries holding relations with Israel to break them.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke with Saleh on Thursday, shortly after the attack on the USS Cole destroyer in Aden harbor, and told him of the need to come out publicly against terrorism.
Saleh has not done so yet, maintaining that the deadly blast on the Cole may have been the result of an accident.
Boucher said the United States appreciated the help rendered by Sanaa in dealing with Thursday's attack – (AFP)
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