U.S. intelligence officials meet in Yemen

March 23, 2010 at 12:08 PM
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SANAA, Yemen, March 23 (UPI) -- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh discussed joint cooperation in the counter-terrorism sector with U.S. intelligence officials on a mission to Sanaa.

Saleh welcomed James Clapper, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for intelligence, to the Yemeni capital Monday.

The pair discussed bilateral issues related to security and the training of counter-terrorism officials, the official Saba news agency in Yemen reported late Monday.

Saleh noted the "cooperation between Yemen and America either in the developmental field or training and information exchange for the interest of the Yemeni and American peoples," the news agency said.

Yemen gained significance in the U.S. intelligence community following a failed attempt to blow up a U.S. passenger jet Christmas Day.

Nigerian national Umaru Farouk Abdulmutallab has been charged with trying to bomb the plane. He allegedly received instruction for the plot from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni branch of the terrorist group.

Yemen has denied U.S. military forces are operating in the region. Government officials insist they are only receiving military training support from Washington.

Apart from the al-Qaida threat, Yemen is struggling to contain a violent separatist movement in the south of the country.

North and south Yemen united in 1990, though a 1994 civil war unsettled unification.

A truce with the Houthi rebel group in the north, meanwhile, appears to be holding.

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