Sunday, January 3, 2010

UK-US working closely on Yemen and Somalia terrorist threat

Downing Street and the White House have agreed to continue working hand-in-glove to tackle the evolving threat of terrorism from Yemen and Somalia in the wake of recent events in the US.

Both the US and UK already provide support and funding to the Yemeni authorities to help in their efforts to combat the terrorist threat. Measures include support for a special counter-terrorist police unit and for the Yemeni coastguard operation.

The Prime Minister has said that UK support to Yemen is expected to exceed £100 million by 2011 - Britain is one of the leading donors to Yemen’s development.

Speaking on the BBC today, Gordon Brown said Britain has been working closely with the Americans to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation in Yemen.

“Yemen has been recognised, like Somalia, to be one of the areas we have got to not only keep an eye on, but we’ve got to do more. So it’s strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation, it’s working harder on intelligence efforts.”

The UK has also been pushing at the UN Security Council for an effective African peacekeeping force in Somalia, AMISOM.

On Friday, Gordon Brown announced plans to invite key international partners to a high level meeting in London which will coincide with a major conference on Afghanistan.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the conference we will have in London in January, with a Yemen element to it, will be an important means by which we will help the Yemeni authorities who are fighting terrorism to develop the means and the will to do this even more.”

He has also asked that the evolving threat from Yemen and Somalia be placed on the agenda for the EU General Affairs Council in January, and he will discuss with counterparts at the next EU Council meeting. In addition Mr Brown intends to push for stronger action on Yemen from the Financial Action Task Force.

The PM has also called a special meeting of the National Security, International Relations and Development (NSID) Cabinet committee to discuss further the UK’s response to the attempted attack last week. The Committee oversees UK security issues and includes security and military chiefs. This week the PM will hold urgent discussions with Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Defence Secretary and senior advisers on intelligence and security, ahead of the NSID meeting.

This follows the urgent review of airport security ordered by the PM in the immediate aftermath of last week’s events in the US. He expects preliminary findings in days and has pledged to move quickly to improve security wherever necessary.

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