Gül sends message of support to Yemen

March 03, 2010, Wednesday/ 16:57:00/ SÜLEYMAN KURT
Following several clashes in northern and southern Yemen, Turkey has sent a special envoy to the country, voicing support for its territorial integrity.

Engin Soysal, deputy undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry, traveled to Yemen last week to present President Abdullah Gül’s letter of support to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Gül also called Saleh last September to express the importance Turkey attaches to Yemen’s stability.

Yemeni security forces clashed with suspected rebels in the southern Abyan province, where separatists are campaigning against the rule of President Saleh, on Monday.

North and South Yemen united under Saleh’s presidency in 1990 but many in the south, home to most Yemeni oil facilities, complain that northerners have used the unification to grab resources and discriminate against them.

Yemen’s government struck a truce on Feb. 11 with Shiite insurgents with whom it had been fighting in the north, allowing it to turn its attention to unrest in the south as well as al-Qaeda. Saleh has urged northern rebels, called Houthis after the clan name of their leaders, to join the political process by establishing a party. Yemen rose to the forefront of Western security concerns after the Yemeni arm of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to bomb a US-bound plane in December.

Western governments and neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, fear al-Qaeda is exploiting instability in Yemen to recruit and train militants to launch attacks in the region and beyond. Ankara also supported Yemen last summer when it faced natural disasters. Turkey sent Yemen $100,000 to aid the country’s recovery.

Yemen has repeatedly invited Gül to visit the country. As the foreign minister, Gül visited Sana’a in 2005.

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