HC Deb 12 February 1997 vol 290 cc332-3
11. Sir Robert Hicks

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the Foreign Minister of Yemen to discuss Anglo-Yemeni relations; and if he will make a statement. [13964]

Mr. Hanley

During his visit to Yemen in November, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State discussed a wide range of bilateral issues with Dr Iryani, including how further to improve political and commercial co-operation between the United Kingdom and Yemen. No further meeting is planned in the near future.

Sir Robert Hicks

Given the nodal position occupied by Yemen and its potential for development, should not the United Kingdom Government be showing more interest in, and giving greater encouragement to, the numerous Yemeni political development and economic programmes? In particular, would not the exciting Aden port redevelopment and free port project be a worthwhile starter?

Mr. Hanley

I agree with my hon. Friend, who I know has visited Yemen quite recently. We are determined to enhance relations with our Yemeni friends, as we have made clear during a succession of recent visits. Not only has the Secretary of State made a rare visit to the Yemen, but so has the Minister for Trade. I visited it a year before the Secretary of State, and the permanent under-secretary at the FCO has visited it in the past couple of weeks. The other way round, the Prime Minister of Yemen, Abd al-Ghani, visited Britain last September and Dr. Iryani has been here recently. We have invited President Saleh to visit at a date yet to be specified this year. My hon. Friend is right that the Aden port project is exciting and offers big opportunities to British companies. I am pleased that British Airways has recently agreed to renew its air services to Yemen.

Mr. Dalyell

Did Dr. Iryani raise the long-standing Yemeni concern about the appalling plight of the children of Iraq and the famine and its consequences? Is it altogether wise to be so definite about sanctions that strengthen, not weaken, Saddam Hussein?

Mr. Hanley

I admit that I discussed the situation in Iraq with Dr. Iryani. I am pleased that, when I met President Saleh, he too expressed regrets about the policy of Saddam Hussein and the way in which the people of Iraq have been harmed by it. We are having a good exchange of views with Yemen, and I believe that it understands our point of view well.

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