EU Council and North Africa

Posted on June 14th, 2011 in Parliamentary News

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): Were there any discussions at the European Council concerning Yemen? The Prime Minister will be aware of how important that country is in the fight against terrorism, and of the excellent talks between the Foreign Secretary and the Yemeni Foreign Secretary last week. Is the Prime Minister satisfied with the package of measures put forward by President Ali Abdullah Saleh? Is not the stability of Yemen absolutely vital in the area? If the Yemeni Government fall, al-Qaeda will be the winner.

The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point, which is that Yemen is vital to the security not just of that region, but frankly of our world, because there has been such a lot of al-Qaeda activity in that part of the Arabian peninsula. Yemen was mentioned at the European Council. In terms of the action that President Saleh has taken, clearly we want to see it in detail and see it put in place. There is a something of wake-up call in Yemen because of the incredible stresses and problems that that country faces, and we need to work with it. I have met President Saleh and spoken to him on the telephone, and the Foreign Secretary has had meetings, as the right hon. Gentleman says. We need to help Yemen with its reform programme, not just so that it becomes more stable, but so that it is able to deal with the cancer of al-Qaeda which is in its own country.