US AMBASSADOR IN A PRESS CONFERENCE: “The US and Yemen recognize that normalization with Israel will be a part of a comprehensive peace agreement” [Archives:2000/18/Front Page]

May 1 2000

US Ambassador to Yemen Barbara K. Bodine held on April 25, 2000 a press conference at the embassy building in Sanaa on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Yemen’s Unification Day which falls on May 22. The conference was attended by a host of media reporters and the US Embassy was represented by the Cultural and Political Attaches plus the Ambassador. Ms. Bodine talked about various topics and responded to questions raised by some reporters who were in attendance at the press conference.
Yemen Times was present at the conference and raised a question by Mr Mohammed Bin Sallam mentioning that ” Many US congressional delegates and officials frequently pay unannounced visits to Yemen, but the US embassy does not give the media prior information so that to cover such visits, a matter that forces us to seek information from other sources . A most recent example is the expected visit to Yemen by Ms Mary McDavid, in charge of public relations in the congress, the general coordinator between the congress and the White House. What’s your comment?
Ambassador Bodine responded to Yemen Times question by saying, “First of all, any official visitor from the United States who comes to Yemen, I know that Dr Eccel and the Embassy put out announcements to all the Yemen media. We have never had an official visitor that we have never announced publicly. As for the congress person that you are referring to, I think what you are talking about is the group of Senate wives who are coming here on a tourist visit.
In response to a question raised by Mr Mohammed Al- Qadhi from Yemen Times on threats received by the embassy and their source, the US ambassador said, “Let’s put it this way, if we knew exactly where the threats were coming from, we would do something to stop them. How do we get them? Phone, fax, letters, any number of different ways. Remarking on the release of the film of ”Rules of Engagement” had an effect on President Ali Abdullah Saleh visit to the United States, ambassador Bodine said ” I would say first of all that the welcome to president Saleh to the United States was very warm and a very good welcome.” She added that the film release ”which we certainly do not support, was a coincidence, and certainly not planned for the President’s visit.”
As for her assessment of the future of the Yemeni-American relations, the American ambassador to Yemen said the relationship between the United States and Yemen ” is strong as it has been in many years,” adding that as one of the most important indications of the new relationship was” the commitment by our administration to continue the US aid program in Yemen.” As for the US participation in the celebrations of May 22nd, she said she was assured it would be at an appropriate level.
On her assessment of Yemen unity at present after ten years and the status of Mr Abdulrahman Al-Jifri, the American ambassador has said that they have supported it since 1990, believing it has been to the benefit of the Yemeni people and to the benefit of the region. However, she has remarked that unification does not solve all of the problems of which there are still many to be addressed and that the unification made these issues for the Yemenis to discuss internally and not across a border. As for Mr Al-Jifri’s status ambassador Bodine said ” he was the vice president of the Democratic Republic of Yemen which was a secessionist and nonrecognized political entity, and so he would be described I think by most people as a leader of a secessionist movement. What his status is now is something for him to discuss with the Yemen government, not be me to judge.”
In her reply to a remark that the US ambassador was the only foreign diplomat to call for a press conference on the occasion of celebrating Yemen’s unity, Jewish tourists visit to Yemen and the role the US plays for Yemen’s normalization of relations with Israel, the ambassador said that she certainly hoped that she would not be the only one to do that.She said it was a way of conveying her government’s support for the unification of Yemen and the efforts at reform that had been undertaken for the last ten years. She denied the Jews visits to Yemen was a precondition for president’s Saleh’s visit to the US. ” The United States and Yemen recognize that normalization -with Israel- will be a part of a comprehensive peace agreement.” she said in a comment regarding normalization of relations between Yemen and Israel. She elaborated by saying that the United States would like its friends to normalize their diplomatic relations with Israel. But normalization of relations with Israel ”is not a precondition to good relations with any of our other friends. Yemen’s consistent support for the peace process…. is a very critical element of our relationship, and something that we are very pleased with.”
On the question of queues in front of the US embassy for visas, ambassador Bodine they were trying to get procedures more simplified, adding that they would process as many as they possibly could and that it was just a question of the size of their staff.
On a question tackling the question of Yemeni-Saudi borders and whether the US believed that Yemen was involved in terrorism, the US ambassador to Yemen said that her country was very much favoring a negotiated final demarcation of the border between the two countries, adding “we certainly would work with both of our friends to try to encourage a peaceful solution to this border issue.” Concerning the question of terrorism she said that there were” some of the most interesting discussions while we were in Washington……but I am not going to discuss the details of those conversations or any of the efforts of cooperation that were discussed. I would like to say that we have many shared views and we understand that it is a shared problem.”
On the film of ”Rules of Engagement” ambassador Bodine said ” it does not represent either official views, nor does it represent majority views in the United States. I will tell you that my guess is that the people who made this movie have absolutely no idea where Yemen is.” She has further said ” I will say that the movie actually worked to insult as many people as it could. It certainly insulted the Yemeni people. I understand the American ambassador is portrayed as an idiot, and that most of the military are not portrayed very well either.”