Salah Haddash Talks to Ambassadors Douglas Scrafton (UK) and Andre Janier (France): “President Saleh’s coming visit to London will give new impetus to our bilateral relations.” [Archives:1997/41/Law & Diplomacy]

October 13 1997

Mr. Douglas Scrafton, the UK Ambassador has left Sanaa after two and a half years of service in Yemen which lead to his decoration of the May22nd order medal by President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Mr. Scrafton, 48, served his country in different diplomatic capacities in Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Uganda, Swaziland, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and of course, Yemen. He is returning to London for an interval of a few months before taking a new assignment in yet another country. This is what he told Yemen Times.

Q: What are your impressions about Yemen? A: This is one of the most scenic countries in the world. It has unique architecture and culture. For me the impression I’ll carry along with me for many years to come, is the warmth, friendliness and openness of the Yemeni people.
Q: What have you gained from your experience in Yemen? A: I gained tremendously from my time here. This is not the first country in which I have served, but I have never received a warmer welcome anywhere else in the world. I have learned a great deal about the Yemeni people and the way they look at events. It has been a learning experience.
Q: How do you assess Yemeni-British relations? A: I think that relations between Yemen and the UK are stronger now than it has been for many years. This is for a number of reasons. First of all, I think because of Yemen’s internal developments, especially economic transformation and progress. Second, Yemen’s political maturity and democratization are a major factor. It has made it very easy for my country to look for ways of spreading and developing the relationship, and making it more fruitful. I am delighted that this has happened during my time here.
Q: The two countries exchanged many important visits, the last one being the visit of Duke of Gloucester’s to Yemen. What do you make of it? A: Exchanging visits strengthen our commercial ties and enhances political undestanding. The Duke of Gloucester’s visit is the latest of a number of important visits which have taken the bilateral relationships further in all areas. In the political background, we have had a very fruitful exchange of visits between senior officials. At the cultural level, we launched the Yemen Festival in Britain last month which is continuing to the end of this month. On the economic side, we have also made a tremendous progress. British businessmen are looking for opportunities for trade and investment.
Q: How do you see President Saleh’s upcoming visit to Britain? A: The President has agreed to visit London. next month. We have been discussing this for many months. He has made it clear he wants a visit which conducts a real business. So, we have an official working visit which includes discussions with my Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. We are very much looking forward to this visit. It is a natural step in our bilateral relationship.
Q: What about the Yemen Festival in London? A: This has been an extraordinary success. I always knew that because I have the advantage of seeing Yemen’s culture here.