SANAA (AFP) – Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has met a senior US defence official to discuss fighting terrorism amid a warning of Al-Qaeda maritime attacks, the official Saba news reported.
Saleh’s Monday meeting with James Clapper, the US undersecretary of defence for intelligence, came on the same day the US navy warned that the militant Islamist group could attack ships off Yemen’s coast.
The two men discussed “bilateral relations and means of cooperation in security matters, training, fighting terrorism, and protection of coasts,” Saba reported late on Monday.
Saleh welcomed “the cooperation between the two friendly countries in fields of development, training and exchange of information,” the news agency said.
The US Office of Naval Intelligence warned on its website that Al-Qaeda, which killed 17 sailors in a 2000 attack on the American destroyer USS Cole docked in Aden, might carry out maritime attacks.
“Information suggests that Al-Qaeda remains interested in maritime attacks in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden along the coast of Yemen,” the US Office of Naval Intelligence’s warned on its website.
Al-Qaeda said last month in an audio message that it wanted to control Bab al-Mandab, which links the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea.
The strait is navigated by oil tankers and other ships that pass through the Suez Canal to the north.
Yemen has intensified operations against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s local arm, since December. The network has claimed responsibility for a December 25 attempt to blow up a US airliner over Detroit.
The United States reportedly has supplied Yemen with intelligence and other support for its operations against Al-Qaeda militants.