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Middle East

UK hosts Friends of Yemen meeting in London

  • Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (R) and Yemen's Minister of Foreign Affairs Abu Bakr al-Qirbi hold a news conference after the Friends of Yemen ministerial meeting in London March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday that any attempt to disrupt elections in Yemen will be met with a "serious" response from the U.N. Security Council.

The warning came as Hague welcomed representatives from 39 countries and organizations to the fifth meeting of the Friends of Yemen group for talks on challenges facing the nation.

Hague said the U.K. stands "shoulder to shoulder" with Yemen as it takes steps to tackle extremism and engage in a national dialogue, noting that instability in Yemen threatens regional security and causes immense suffering to the Yemeni people.

"Yemen matters to the UK and it matters to the international community," Hague said in London, speaking alongside his Yemeni counterpart and Saudi Arabia's minister of state for foreign affairs. "The international community cannot afford to let Yemen's transition falter."

Yemen went through political and security upheavals during a 2011 uprising, when millions of Yemenis took to the streets demanding the ouster of longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh. Al-Qaida took advantage of the security vacuum and overran parts of southern Yemen before it was driven out over the past year.

Welcoming an elections roadmap created by the Yemeni government that sets out plans to overhaul the voting system and implement a new constitution, Hague also announced that the U.K. will give 11.4 million pounds ($17.1 million) to support elections and a national dialogue in the country.

Hague added that any attempt to spoil the fragile political process "will be met with a serious response and further measures from the United Nations."

The U.S. will give $10.4 million toward the dialogue process, which is slated to start March 18, according to the State Department. It will also provide $1.2 million in support of constitutional reform projects and $8.4 million in technical assistance to prepare for national elections in February 2014.

Thursday's meeting of the Friends of Yemen focused on how $7.9 billion in aid pledged to Yemen in 2012 is being disbursed.

The group urged donors to ensure that aid committed to projects is spent quickly and for pledges to be allocated "without delay" amid a "severe humanitarian situation" in Yemen.

Of the $7.9 billion pledged, only $1.8 billion has been disbursed, according to the statement. A further $2.7 billion has been approved for projects and $6 billion has been allocated.

 
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