Riyadh extends friendship to Yemen

Jan. 29, 2010 at 4:12 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Riyadh expressed its willingness to come to the assistance of the Yemeni government as it battles security and economic challenges, ministers said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal from his Washington offices expressed his support for the Yemeni government in the wake of a one-day conference in London earlier this week.

"We are all gathered here to declare very clearly our friendship to Yemen, our commitment to helping Yemen, and our determination to be partners with Yemen," the minister said.

The Yemeni government asked for $4 billion in economic aid from the international community. Persistent drought and declining oil reserves are exacerbating security challenges from a growing al-Qaida presence, a secessionist movement in the south and a Shiite rebellion in the north.

Yemen launched a major military operation against al-Houthi rebels operating in the northern provinces along the Saudi border in August. Saudi Arabia entered the fight in 2009 as Houthi rebels clashes with security forces stationed at border checkpoints.

Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the rebel leader, said in a Monday audio message he would withdraw his fighters from Saudi Arabia as part of a broader "initiative" with Riyadh.

"We announce our full withdrawal from all Saudi territory," the rebel leader added.

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