SANAA, Yemen – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Yemen on Tuesday to press its government for greater cooperation on terrorism, promising in return that the United States would do more for the impoverished country.
Clinton, the first secretary of state to visit Yemen in 20 years, met for three hours with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and heard promises from the president that he is “fully committed” to helping the United States destroy an al-Qaida offshoot based on the Arabian Peninsula, a senior U.S. official said.
Clinton, meanwhile, promised a new American commitment to help develop the economy and political system of Yemen, the poorest of Arab states. She gently pressed Saleh, who is embroiled in a deepening dispute with minority opposition parties, to take new steps to open the country’s political system.
Clinton’s two-part message reflects the delicate U.S. position with Yemen, which has become an important country in the fight against terrorism. The United States desperately needs Yemen’s cooperation, yet it can’t afford to let Yemenis think that the United States has no interest in the country except in eliminating terror groups operating there.
“We need to show this is not just about us,” said the U.S. official. “We have to have a balance in our relationship with Yemen.”