SANAA, Yemen, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The president of Yemen said the use of drones over his airspace was part of a bilateral strategic agreement with the United States.
A suspected CIA drone killed U.S.-born al-Qaida ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011 in Yemen. Since then, a number of high-level al-Qaida figures have been killed or targeted in Yemen by U.S. drone missile strikes.
Yemen was the focal point of an early August national security warning from the U.S. State Department. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemeni group, has targeted Western interests in the past.
Yemeni President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi said the use of drones was part of a bilateral agreement with the United States stretching back to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
Drone operations, which he said started in 2004, are part of a bilateral fight against al-Qaida, the official Saba News Agency reported Thursday.
"I have discussed with the U.S. administration the possibility of providing us with this technology," he was quoted as saying Thursday.
The U.S. embassy and those of its European counterparts have re-opened recently. Embassies in Yemen were closed and non-essential staff evacuated in response to the alert from the U.S. government.
Yemen downplayed the security risk.