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Clinton presses Sanaa on antiterrorism efforts
SANAA | Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday urged Yemen to step up cooperation with the United States as she made an unannounced visit here to shore up and repair damaged ties with a fragile and problematic ally that is fast becoming the main focus of U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
“We face a common threat posed by the terrorists and al Qaeda, but our partnership goes beyond counterterrorism,” Mr. Clinton told reporters after a meeting with Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh. “We’re focused not just on short-term threats, but long-term challenges,” such as Yemen’s chronic poverty and other economic and social problems, she said.
Under tight security, Mrs. Clinton landed in the capital, Sanaa, where she was pressing Yemeni leaders to do more to crack down on extremism that has bled into the West with attacks such as those thought inspired by U.S.-Yemeni radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He is thought to be hiding in Yemen and is subject to a U.S. kill-or-capture order.
“Yemen recognizes the threat” posed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula “and has become increasingly committed to a broad-based counterterrorist strategy,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters after landing in Sanaa.
The first U.S. secretary of state to visit Yemen in 20 years, Mrs. Clinton said she wants her trip to underscore U.S. support for the country and convince Yemenis that the U.S. wants more than military ties.
Strains emerging in coalition government
JERUSALEM | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuked his combative foreign minister on Tuesday for attacking members of the Israeli leader’s Likud Party, pointing to growing strains within the coalition government.
In a rambling news conference, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized Likud leaders for opposing an initiative to investigate Israeli human rights groups critical of the government. He said it was a “strange spectacle” to see Likud members protecting groups that he described as “terrorist collaborators.”
Mr. Lieberman leads the hawkish Yisrael Beitenu party, dominated by immigrants from the former Soviet Union, such as Mr. Lieberman himself. It made strong gains in 2009 elections with a nationalist message that, among other things, questioned the loyalties of Israel’s Arab minority.
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