Common visionsYemen and Pakistan pen agreement [Archives:2004/734/Local News]

May 3 2004

By Peter Willems
Yemen Times Staff

Yemen and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding during Yemeni Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Tahir bin Yahya's visit to Pakistan last week.
The memorandum includes an annual dialogue between the two countries on political and economic issues and the exchange of information on the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.
“It was a productive meeting, and it dealt with a number of issues on security,” Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi told Yemen Times. “Pakistan is a focal point as far as terrorist groups with links in Afghanistan and other places in the world. It is important for Yemen to maintain a close relationship with Pakistan and exchange information. So that meeting was important.”
Yemen and Pakistan teamed up with the United States to fight terrorism after the terrorist attacks on US soil on September 11, 2001.
During Yahya's participation in the first session of talks under the memorandum in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad, the two countries condemned Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders, such as the killing of Hamas leaders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdulaziz Rantisi.
“We feel that the targeted killings are not based on legal grounds and not in line with international law,” said Al-Qirbi.
Yemen and Pakistan also agreed that US forces must withdraw from Iraq as early as possible and be replaced by the United Nations to bring back stability to the country.
“Stability in Iraq cannot be really achieved unless a democratic government is established and the occupying forces evacuate,” said Al-Qirbi. “Instability will continue in one form or another, even if there is a democratic government with the presence of the occupying forces. Occupation was not initiated. Therefore, if the Americans stay behind, people in Iraq will still look at them as an occupying force.”
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh called for an immediate US withdrawal from Iraq at a conference of local leaders in Sana'a last week.
The Pakistani government has rejected US and British appeals to send troops to Iraq and join a Muslim peacekeeping force. It is now considering a recent request to provide troops to protect the UN mission if it enters Iraq to strive for establishing stability.