Westerwelle visits Yemen, as violence rages in the south | News | DW | 10.03.2012
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Westerwelle visits Yemen, as violence rages in the south

Germany's foreign minister has pledged Berlin's support for Yemen's efforts to move towards democracy. Meanwhile, dozens were killed in airstrikes in the south of Yemen.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Saturday that Berlin is keen to support Yemen in its efforts to make the transition to a democracy.

Speaking in Berlin before leaving for the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, Westerwelle said that now 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 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 is the first Western foreign minister to visit Yemen since Saleh stepped down. He was in Sanaa to meet with Saleh's successor, former Vice President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi, who was the only candidate on the ballot in polls held last month.

President Hadi is to serve a shortened two-year term after which fresh elections are to be held.

Ongoing violence in the South

Meanwhile, dozens of al Qaeda-linked militants are reported to have been killed in the al Bayda province of southern Yemen, in what are said to have been the biggest airstrikes launched since President Hadi came to office last month.

News agencies cite local sources who give conflicting reports on the number of casualties and the perpetrators of the attacks. Twenty-five were killed in US drone attacks and 20 more in strikes launched by the Yemeni air force, according to Reuters. This could not be immediately confirmed.

pfd/sjt (AFP, Reuters)