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Yemen opposes foreign base on its soil

[ 2010-01-27 14:11]     字号 [] [] []  
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Yemen needs logistical support to help fight Al-Qaida but will not allow foreign covert operations against the global militant group on its territory, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi told the BBC.

The government in Sana'a declared open war on Al-Qaida this month, stepping up air strikes and security sweeps after a regional arm of the militant group based in Yemen said they were behind a failed Dec 25 bid to blow up a US-bound airliner.

But in the interview, Qirbi ruled out allowing a US military base on Yemeni soil or covert foreign operations in the country.

"We will undertake it ourselves. Why do we need outside soldiers to fight when we can do the fight ourselves?" said Qirbi in the interview broadcast yesterday.

He said the government had mistakenly allowed foreign intervention in 2002, when a US missile strike killed an Al-Qaida leader suspected of planning the 2000 suicide bombing of the US warship Cole.

"It proved to be a terrible mistake, and this is why we don't want to repeat it. We have to do it ourselves and anybody who is interested will have to support us," Qirbi said.

US defense and counter-terrorism officials say Washington has been quietly supplying military equipment, intelligence and training to Yemen to destroy suspected Al-Qaida hideouts.

Qirbi rejected any suggestion that the government had allowed Al-Qaida to flourish in the country by refusing to confront militants in the past. "Yemen has always tackled Al-Qaida. But it doesn't mean because there was a period of no confrontation that it hasn't been battling Al-Qaida, because we've been battling it through dialogue and through many different means," he said.

He praised a Saudi program that involves counselling and reintegrating militants into society - an idea that Yemen pioneered, but now says it lacks the resources to pursue.

Yemen's government has previously talked of dialogue with Al-Qaida on condition that militants lay down their weapons first.

Yemeni Shi'ite rebels said yesterday they had withdrawn completely from Saudi territory as part of a truce offer extended to the world's top oil exporter.

The rebels' leader offered a ceasefire to Saudi Arabia on Monday, saying his fighters would withdraw from the kingdom's territory to avoid more civilian casualties. A Saudi defense ministry spokesman said Riyadh was mulling the offer.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Yemen opposes foreign base on its soil

About the broadcaster:

Yemen opposes foreign base on its soil

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.