- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 3, 2010

LONDON (AP) — The British government said Sunday that Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Barack Obama had agreed to fund a counterterrorism police unit in Yemen to tackle the rising terrorist threat from the country.

Brown’s Downing Street Office said the U.K. and the U.S. had also agreed to increase support for Yemen’s coast guard operation. Pirates operating in the waters between Somalia and Yemen have seized four ships in the last week.

Downing Street said Brown and Obama will push the U.N. Security Council to create a larger peacekeeping force for Somalia.

The British government unveiled its plans in the wake of the thwarted Christmas Day bombing of a passenger plane bound for Detroit.

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Brown called last week for a high-level international meeting later this month to devise ways to counter radicalization in Yemen. He said an international approach is needed to combat the increasing influence of al-Qaida in Yemen. The terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the failed attack.

Downing Street said the government of Yemen had been consulted over the decision to boost the country’s coast guard and police operations.

The White House had no immediate comment on the specific joint police unit but broadly said Washington stood ready to work with allies to fight extremism. An official in Obama’s government welcomed Brown’s move earlier to lead an international conference on Jan. 28 to devise ways to counter radicalization in the country, the poorest in the Arab world.

“We welcome international efforts to provide security and economic assistance to Yemen as it takes action to confront a serious terrorist threat,” said a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic and intelligence issues.

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Associated Press writer Philip Elliott in Honolulu contributed to this report.

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