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US General Talks Security in Yemen

Yemeni officials say U.S. General David Petraeus met with Yemen's president Saturday, as the country steps up efforts to stop al-Qaida militants.

Sources say Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, discussed the security situation in Yemen with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The American general recently said Washington would nearly double the $70 million it sends to Yemen in security assistance.

Yemeni officials said Saturday that extra security forces have been deployed to eastern provinces where al-Qaida militants operate.

On Friday, a Somali Islamic extremist insurgent group -- al-Shabab -- said it was sending fighters to Yemen to help al-Qaida there. Yemen said it will not tolerate foreign terrorists on its soil.

A senior al-Shabab official (Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour) also called on Muslims in other countries to join the fight.

The Yemeni government has conducted a series of raids and airstrikes against the local al-Qaida group (known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula).

The United States considers al-Shabab a terrorist group, and says it has links to al-Qaida.

In another development, Shi'ite rebels in northern Yemen have welcomed an appeal for peace by Yemen's president.

On Saturday, rebel leaders said they would be willing to enter talks if the government ends its offensive against them.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.