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Yemeni Leader Meets With President Bush - 2001-11-28


President Bush met with the leader of Yemen Tuesday to discuss the fight against terrorism. U.S. officials say they are getting more help from Yemen since the attacks of September 11.

U.S. officials say Yemen is an important part of this coalition against terrorism, not only because of its ties to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, but because Yemen was the site of an October 2000 attack on a U.S. warship that killed 17 American sailors.

U.S. investigators have been critical of what they said was the lack of cooperation from Yemeni authorities in trying to uncover who was behind the attack on the USS Cole.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that has changed since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. "Since September 11," he said, "there has been a helpful new energy from Yemen in terms of cooperating with the United States in the war on terrorism."

Since September 11, for example, U.S. investigators have been allowed to interview some of the suspects detained in connection with the attack on the Cole. Yemen also agreed to delay the start of their trial, after Washington asked for time to gather more evidence.

Following his Oval Office meeting with President Bush, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said they discussed a broad range of terrorist activities and what the coalition can do to stop them.

President Saleh said he and President Bush discussed the investigation into the attack on the USS Cole, as well as the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington and the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

A U.S. court has indicted Mr. bin Laden on charges that he planned the 1998 attacks in East Africa. President Bush says he is the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks, though Mr. Fleischer says there is currently no evidence linking Mr. bin Laden with the attack on the USS Cole.

After the Afghan war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, thousands of Arab fighters settled in Yemen, where Mr. bin Laden opened training camps for his al-Qaida terrorist group. U.S. officials want Yemeni authorities to arrest suspected al-Qaida members, freeze their bank accounts and make sure all of the training camps are closed.