A delegation of the Saudi Development Fund is due to travel to Yemen in a bid to help settle Sanaa's debt of at least $230 million to Riyadh, an official statement said Thursday.
The announcement came in a joint statement issued here after a meeting of the Saudi-Yemeni Coordination Council, the highest-level bilateral panel of the two states, which did not specify the date of the visit.
Saudi Arabia also promised to grant a loan of $300 million to finance development projects in Yemen, the statement said.
Yemeni Finance Minister Alawi Saleh al-Salami said Tuesday the debt amounted to between $230 and $245 million, while unofficial estimates in Sanaa put the figure at $600 million.
The joint statement said the two countries have decided to strengthen their bilateral ties in various fields, including education, trade, agriculture, oil, health, electricity and transport.
The meeting of the coordination council, whose activities had been frozen for 10 years, was chaired jointly by Saudi Defence Minister Sultan Bin Abdel Aziz and Yemeni Prime Minister Abdel Karim al-Aryani.
Yemen, whose ties with Saudi Arabia have been on the mend over the past five years, paid a heavy price for its political support of Baghdad during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis sparked by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Between 1971 and 1987, Yemen, one of the world's poorest countries, received a total of three billion dollars from Saudi Arabia, half of it going to the annual state budget.
The Saudi market employed 1.2 million Yemenis, but 800,000 of them were expelled during the Gulf crisis. Remittances from Yemeni workers in the Gulf fell to $227 million from $1.5 billion in 1990, official Yemeni figures show.
However, Saudi-Yemeni relations improved progressively until a border agreement earlier this year, which sealed a normalization of ties between the two countries. . — (AFP, Medina)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )