- - Tuesday, January 11, 2011


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. Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister “utterly rejects” the comments, reminding Mr. Lieberman that Likud is a “democratic and pluralistic party and not a dictatorship of one opinion.”

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.

Mr. Lieberman more recently has turned his attention to Israeli human rights groups, pushing parliament to launch an inquiry into funding sources of organizations deemed hostile to Israel.


Envoy recalled to protest popes remarks

CAIRO | Egypt has recalled its ambassador to the Vatican over Pope Benedict XVI’s demand that world governments do more to ensure Christians can practice their faith without discrimination or violence.

In a speech Monday to ambassadors accredited to the Vatican, Benedict cited recent attacks on Christians in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria, and said governments must take effective measures to protect religious minorities.

Hossam Zaki, a spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, described Benedict’s remarks Tuesday as “unacceptable” and accused him of interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

A bomb attack killed 23 worshippers at an Alexandria, Egypt, church on New Year’s Eve.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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