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Yemen, U.S. increase antiterrorism cooperation

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a CNN interview after the 2000 attack on the USS Cole  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush met with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, the latest sign of a developing affinity between the two nations that have not always been cordial to each other.

The relationship between Yemen and the United States has become more cooperative since 17 U.S. sailors died in a terrorist attack on the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen 13 months ago, diplomats and officials say.

As he left the White House, Saleh said his discussions with Bush included matters related to the USS Cole, as well as the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington and the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Before the meeting, one western diplomat who requested anonymity had said Yemeni officials last month gave the United States information that has provided them with "precise and important details" on people involved in each of those terrorist attacks on United States targets.

In the past, the relationship between Yemen and the United States has occasionally been rocky. Yemen leaders resented the large FBI presence during the investigation of the Cole attack, and cultural differences hindered cooperation between the two countries.

But that has changed, prompting one Yemeni official to call Americans "friends."

"We are exchanging information, and have provided to our American friends all the information we have that might lead to identify the people involved in terrorist activities," said the Yemeni official, who requested anonymity.

During his visit, Saleh was expected to sign an anti-terrorism agreement covering the exchange of intelligence information and the training of Yemeni security officers, a western diplomat said last week.

Other diplomats said the United States would provide Yemen $150 million in 2002 to pay for security upgrades in the Middle Eastern country.


• ArabNet -- Yemen
• Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999

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