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World meets for Yemen talks

Top level talks are being held in Britain in a meeting aimed at sealing international support for Yemen and discussing its threat to world security. Officials from all over the world will meet for two hours of talks this evening on how to stabilise the poverty-stricken nation, before a larger scale gathering tomorrow. The talks in London chaired by David Miliband, aim to look at solutions for long-term problems that have fuelled extremism in the middle eastern country as well as political and economic issues facing the Arab state.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for the conference after the alleged attempt to blow up a US airliner on Christmas day. Al-Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility and now there are growing fears that the country could become a haven for terrorists. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspect in the alleged bomb plot, is said to have told investigators that he was supplied with explosives in Yemen. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Mujawar will also attend the talks. Yemen’s problems are complicated. Poverty, corruption, separatist movements and extremism all threaten what is the poorest Arab country. Its population is ballooning, oil revenues are falling, the water tables are sinking and its fighting a bloody insurgency that has already embroiled the Saudi army on its northern border, said the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner."Supporting the government of Yemen is crucial to the stability of that country but it is also crucial to the stability of the world" "Into that unhappy mix comes a resurgent al-Qaeda that has chosen Yemen for its new base in the Middle East, and is now threatening to use it as a springboard to attack the West and its allies."

Ginny Hill, of Chatham House, home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, described Yemen as a ‘collapsing state’ She said: "Future instability in Yemen could expand a lawless zone stretching from northern Kenya through Somalia and the Gulf of Aden to Saudi Arabia. Terrorist networks are likely to grow as the state collapses, so an effective counterterrorism strategy requires a long-term commitment to development, good governance and state building.”Western countries have been providing financial support to Yemen for some time, however the country does not want any intervention in its efforts to tackle al Qaeda. Yemen's Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said that his country wanted "international support to build infrastructure, combat poverty and create jobs, as well as support in combating terrorism". But he said that the idea of US military bases on Yemeni soil was unthinkable.

By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children