Source: AFP , 08/11/2010
DUBAI — The Yemeni foreign minister denied any US military role in his country's fight against Al-Qaeda in comments published Monday after a report Washington had deployed drones to hunt down jihadists.
"The United States cooperates with Yemen in intelligence, but the operations are conducted by the Yemeni security forces," Abu Bakr al-Kurbi told Abu Dhabi daily The National.
"Yemen has combat aircraft."
The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the US administration had deployed unmanned Predator aircraft to Yemen to hunt for Al-Qaeda militants who have become increasingly active in the impoverished Arab country.
So far the drones have not fired any missiles as US military and intelligence operatives have failed to establish firm information about the whereabouts of wanted militants, the US daily said citing senior US officials it did not identify.
The Yemeni minister said his government was also cooperating with neighbouring Saudi Arabia to address the Al-Qaeda threat.
"There is intelligence cooperation between Yemen and all the Arab countries, with Saudi Arabia more than other countries because of our relationship and the movement of terrorists between Yemen and the kingdom," he told The National.
Yemen has been under mounting US pressure to step up its fight against Al-Qaeda after two bombs addressed to synagogues in Chicago by air freight were tracked back to Yemen.
The packages containing the hard-to-detect explosive PETN hidden in printer ink cartridges were uncovered in Dubai and at Britain's East Midlands Airport last month, sparking a global scare.
Since the scare, various bans have been imposed on cargo and flights originating in Yemen by the United States, Canada and many western European countries, including Britain.
Kurbi said that Yemen had imposed measures of its own.
"Yemen has now of course put additional curbs on sending cargo," he said. "For cargo, they used to rely on companies that are in charge of sending this cargo because they are responsible for inspecting them for safety.
"The government has now had to intervene directly to place restrictions