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Wednesday, November 11, 2009     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Agreement 'reaffirms U.S. support for Yemen'

CAIRO — Yemen and the United States have signed a military cooperation agreement.   

Officials said the accord was signed on Nov. 10 in Sanaa at the end of a two-day military cooperation session. They said the agreement called for enhanced efforts in the area of counter-insurgency, anti-piracy and training, including the development of Yemen's coast guard.

"The agreement reaffirms U.S. support for Yemen," an official said.

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Officials said the cooperation accord capped several months of high-level U.S. military visits to Yemen, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the visits reviewed Yemen's military requirements amid the war with the Iranian-backed Shi'ite rebels in the north and the Al Qaida insurgency.

The U.S. military delegation was headed by Gen. Jeffrey Smith, director of planning at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Smith was said to have expressed satisfaction over progress in the talks, the second round of sessions by the general staffs of the militaries of Yemen and the United States.

"We will continue visits in order to improve the two countries relations to its highest level," Smith said.

The Yemeni delegation was headed by Chief of Staff Gen. Ahmed Al Ashwal. Al Ashwal said the United States was increasing cooperation with Yemen in all areas of defense and security.

Officials said the agreement was expected to pave the way for increased U.S. military and security aid to Sanaa. They said the two countries sought to agree on priorities for the Yemeni military and security forces.

"The two sides signed an agreement of cooperation in exchanging experiences, trainings and qualification in the military and security field between the two countries armed forces," the official Yemen news agency, Saba, said.

The regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh has identified the Iranian-backed Believing Youth movement as the key threat to Yemen. Officials said the United States said the leading threat was Al Qaida, and argued that the Shi'ite rebellion could be defused through development efforts in northern Yemen.

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