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Frattini urges joint EU action on Yemen

Ashton 'agrees greater coordination needed'

04 January, 15:35
Frattini urges joint EU action on Yemen (ANSA) - Rome, January 4 - Italian Foreign minister Franco Frattini on Monday urged European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to make sure the EU takes coordinated action on Al Qaeda bases in Yemen in the wake of the attempted terrorist bombing of a US airliner on Christmas Day.

In a phone conversation, Frattini called for Ashton, the EU's new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to work for ''concrete and effective'' coordination in Yemen and Brussels, the Italian foreign ministry said.

Ashton agreed with the Italian foreign minister that "ever more coordinated action" was needed, the ministry said.

Britain followed the United States in closing its embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Sunday in the wake of a reported threat to the US embassy. France took the same step on Monday while Germany, according to a report in the Spanish daily El Pais, closed its consular section.

Japan also halted all consular activities.

The Italian foreign ministry added that Frattini was in constant touch with his counterparts in Europe and the Gulf.

It said he was trying to help harmonise international action against the terrorist threat.

On Monday two suspected Al Qaeda militants were killed by Yemeni security forces not far from Sanaa.

Yemeni tribal sources said they were the son and nephew of a leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen branch of Osama bin Laden's network. AQAP claimed responsibility for the attempt by Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to bomb the American plane carrying 300 people on December 25.

The Nigerian student is believed to have been trained in Yemen and received the explosives he tried to use there.

Last week Frattini backed international action against AQAP cells in Yemen but noted that "any action against them would be very difficult and delicate".

US President Barack Obama has said the US would not hesitate to strike against terrorists anywhere in the world should they pose a threat to his country's national security.

Yemen, which is faced with a Shi'ite Muslim rebellion in the north and separatist protests in the south, has said it will not tolerate militant groups on its territory.

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