British foreign secretary visits Yemen

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British Foreign Secretary William Hague discussed political and economic change in Yemen with its president Ali Abdullah Saleh on Wednesday as he continued a tour of Arab states.

"We have discussed issues of political and constitutional reforms (as well as) how to work together for the better economic development of Yemen," said Hague after the meeting in Sanaa.

Hague arrived in Yemen as part of a regional tour that previously took him to Tunisia and Jordan. All three states have seen anti-government protests, with the one in Tunisia triggering regime change.

Yemen's official Saba news agency said Hague welcomed reform initiatives that Saleh announced last week that include freezing proposed constitutional changes that would have enabled the president to stay in power for life.

"Britain stands with a stable, unified and prosperous Yemen," Saba quoted Hague as saying.

Yemen, the poorest Arab state, whose south was ruled by Britain until 1967, faces an Al-Qaeda insurgency, a southern secessionist movement, and a sporadic rebellion by Zaidi Shiites in the north.

© 2011 AFP

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