Obama thanks Britain and Saudi, presses Yemen cooperation

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US President Barack Obama thanked British Prime Minister David Cameron and Saudi King Abdullah Saturday for helping to disrupt a terror plot, but reiterated a call to Yemen for closer cooperation.

Obama phoned Cameron "to discuss the terrorist plot that was disrupted yesterday at East Midlands Airport and in Dubai as a result of the close cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as other international partners," the White House said in a statement.

He also placed a call to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, which has been praised by US officials including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for its tip-offs that helped thwart the plan.

Obama told Cameron that his top counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan was regularly speaking with his British counterpart "as we work together to prevent and disrupt future efforts to attack our citizens," the White House added.

The attempt to send explosive-laden parcels from Yemen to the United States has been linked by US officials to the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula.

Brennan appeared to lean heavily on Yemen on Saturday, calling the country's president and reiterating a US call for "close" counterterrorism cooperation in the wake of the disrupted bomb plot.

"John Brennan spoke to President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen this morning and emphasized that the United States stands ready to assist the Yemeni government and the Yemeni people in their fight against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," the White House said in a statement.

Brennan "underscored the importance of close counterterrorism cooperation, including the need to work together on the ongoing investigation into the events over the past few days," the White House said.

The discovery of a suspicious package from Yemen on a cargo plane in central England, and another one in Dubai, sparked a global security alert Friday.

Obama said they represented a "credible terrorist threat," and Napolitano said the plot bore the "hallmarks of Al-Qaeda."

On Saturday, British Home Secretary Theresa May said the package found at East Midlands "was viable and could have exploded" and brought down a plane.

On Saturday night Yemeni security forces had surrounded a house in Sanaa where a woman suspected of links to the two parcel bombs is staying, President Saleh said.

In the decade since the bombing of the USS Cole as it refueled in Aden in 2000, Yemen has morphed into a haven for violent extremists, becoming the headquarters of AQAP and the hiding place for US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, who has been linked to high-profile terror plots in the United States.

© 2010 AFP

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