The German foreign minister has praised Yemen for starting down the path towards democracy. Guido Westerwelle said developments in Yemen were a model for other countries in the region.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle says the political transformation that began in Yemen could be a model for other countries in the region.
"Yemen demonstrates that a political solution, a political transformation is possible," Westerwelle said after a meeting with the country's new president, Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi, in the capital Sanaa on Saturday.
"This is a signal to others who continue to repress their citizens through the use of force," the German foreign minister added in an apparent reference to Syria.
German development support
Prior to embarking on the trip, Westerwelle said that now that long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh had stepped down, Germany was prepared to resume development aid payments. With 270 million euros ($354 million) earmarked for Yemen, Germany is one of the country's biggest donors.
However, many German development projects have been left in ruins by the unrest that has gripped the country over the past year. No German aid workers are currently in Yemen, and Berlin's embassy in Sanaa only reopened in January.
Westerwelle was the first Western foreign minister to visit Yemen since Saleh stepped down. President Hadi took power last month in a vote in which he was the only candidate on the ballot.
He is to serve a shortened two-year term after which fresh elections are to be held.
Violence rages on in the south
Meanwhile, dozens of al Qaeda-linked militants were reported killed in the al-Bayda province of southern Yemen in what are said to have been the biggest airstrikes launched since Saleh resigned after more than three decades in power.
Government sources said at least 45 people had been killed in airstrikes on Friday and Saturday. A leading al Qaeda figure was said to be among the dead. Local sources said that not only Yemeni warplanes but also US drones had been involved in the airstrikes. This has not been independently confirmed.
pfd/sjt/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)