US-UK embassies closed in Yemen after 'joint fight' declared

US-British Embassies have closed after Obama, Brown declared a "joint fight" in Yemen.

US-UK embassies closed in Yemen after 'joint fight' declared

The United States embassy and British Embassy in Yemen have closed and has instructed its Yemeni employees to stay away until further notice, the embassy and foreign diplomats said on Sunday.

Yemeni staff at the embassy told Reuters they had been asked to stay in their homes.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman cited "security reasons" for the embassy's closure, declining to say if any specific security threat had been made.

The U.S. Embassy in Sana'a is closed today, January 3, 2010, in response to "ongoing threats by Al-Qaeda" in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attack American interests in Yemen, said a statement on the embassy website.

"Joint fight"

The United States and Britain said they stepped up the fight against what they say "an emerging terrorist threat" in Yemen, as President Barack Obama for the first time blamed Al-Qaeda for failed attack on a US airliner.

Obama on Saturday accused a Yemen-based affiliate of the group of targeting the jet. US General David Petraeus meanwhile held talks in Sanaa with Yemen's President.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office revealed early Sunday the British leader and Obama had agreed to fund so-called "special counter-terrorism police" in Yemen.

Brown's office said Obama and the British leader had agreed "US-UK funding for a special counter-terrorism police unit in Yemen."

"Downing Street and the White House have agreed to intensify joint US-UK work to tackle the emerging terrorist threat from both Yemen and Somalia in the wake of the failed Detroit terror plot," a British statement said.

On Friday, Britain called an international meeting on Yemen for London January 28, in parallel with a conference on Afghanistan drawing senior ministers or leaders from over 40 nations.

US attacks

Petraeus, the US regional commander, met Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Saturday, the local Saba news agency said.

Obama aides gave few details of the talks, which coincided with reports of American involvement in strikes in the country.

CBS News, citing a US special operations expert Sebastian Gorka, meanwhile reported that recent strikes on Al-Qaeda positions in Yemen, including cruise missile attacks, were led by the United States.

US had said on Friday the United States would more than double its nearly $70 million military assistance program for Yemen.

The Pentagon's main publicly disclosed military program for Yemen grew from $4.6 million in fiscal 2006 to $67 million in fiscal 2009. That figure does not include covert, classified assistance that the United States has provided.

"Predictions"

Obama was expected back in Washington Monday, on the eve of a key meeting on the attack with chiefs of US spy agencies and government departments with national security responsibilities.

Michael Leiter, director of the US National Counterterrorism Center, "predicted" Saturday the Christmas Day attack would not be the last.

The NCTC was set up after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Obama last week angrily denounced "systemic failures" in the US intelligence and homeland security operation, and vowed to put them right.

Suspected al-Qaeda commanders in a rally in south Yemen, issued a warning to Yemen, saying, that the group's war was with the United States and not the Yemeni army.

"Soldiers, you should know that there is no problem between us and you. The problem is between us and America and its lackeys," residents quoted one fighter as telling people gathered after the raids backed by US last week.


Agencies


Last Mod: 03 Ocak 2010, 15:06
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