In the wake of possible release of British Prisoners in Yemen British Minister Arrives in Sanaa Today [Archives:2000/40/Front Page]

October 2 2000

Mr. Keith Vaz, British Minister for State of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, arrives in Sanaa today. He is visiting Yemen at the invitation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, following the Presidents recent visit to the United Kingdom.
While in London, President Saleh and the British Foreign Secretary expressed their strong desire to improve and deepen bilateral relations. It is for this purpose that Mr. Vaz, who was born in Aden, is visiting Yemen.
Mr. Vaz will meet with President Saleh, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Minister for Cabinet Affairs, and the Minister of Health among others.
Mr. Vaz will also sign with the Deputy Finance Minister a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries on the United Kingdoms $ 8 million aid program to support economic reform in Yemen.
According to well-informed foreign sources in Sanaa , Mr. Vaz is likely to discuss with the Yemeni officials the question of the 10 British prisoners in Aden and the possibility of releasing them. These 10 Britishers were tried by a Yemeni court in the beginning of 1999 as they were charged of forming a gang to carry on terrorist acts. Among the prisoners is the son of Mustafa Abu Al-Hamza, Mohammed, who threatened to avenge Abu Al-Hasan Al-Mihdar, the former leader of the so-called Aden-Abyan Islamic Army which kidnapped a group of tourists in December 1998. The confrontation between Al-Mihdars men and police led to the murder of four tourists including two Britishers. Later, Al-Mihdar was sentenced to death.
The same sources told the Yemen Times that the British Foreign Secretary discussed with President Saleh in London the question of issuing a general amensty on the imprisoned Britishers, adding that the visit of Mr. Vaz to Yemen is also to push ahead the efforts in this regard.
Mr. Vaz will address a press conference at the Taj Sheba Hotel tomorrow. He will also be meeting leading members of the Yemeni-British Friendship Association.