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U.S. to relay concerns at Yemen meeting

March 6, 2013 at 9:49 AM

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- The United States is sending a deputy secretary of state to a London conference to discuss meaningful reform in Yemen.

A Friends of Yemen meeting is set for this week in London. U.S. officials said Deputy Secretary of State William Burns would attend the meeting to reaffirm U.S. support for Yemeni reform efforts.

Burns, during a similar meeting on the sidelines of last year's U.N. General Assembly, said "there can be no lasting stability and no freedom from extremism in Yemen without political reform and economic progress."

Yemen has struggled with national security in the face of a threat from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni arm of al-Qaida.

Yemeni President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi announced in January his plans for a national dialogue. A national dialogue conference is expected to culminate in preparations for a draft constitution. General elections should take place in 2014.

Human Rights Watch last month said his administration needs to examine the conduct of national security forces and make a clean break with the past regime of former long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Protests turned deadly in Yemen last month during demonstrations marking the anniversary of the end of Saleh's tenure and the start of Hadi's second year in office.

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