Last updated: 26 March, 2012

Yemen’s Hadi in Riyadh on first foreign trip

Yemen’s President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi travelled to Riyadh on Monday, his first foreign trip since being appointed last month, to meet Saudi King Abdullah, the SPA state news agency reported.

Their discussions touched on bilateral and regional issues, the report said without elaborating.

The visit comes at a time of political uncertainty in Yemen, where Hadi last month replaced veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down after 33 years at the helm following a year-long uprising.

Saleh’s opponents in Yemen’s new coalition government last week accused his party of trying to hamper political transition in the country, which is also suffering from multiple security and humanitarian challenges.

Two days after all but two members of the ex-president’s General People’s Congress walked out of a cabinet meeting, his opponents charged that GPC figures were behind “smear campaigns” against Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa.

Saudi Arabia played a crucial role in forging the Gulf-brokered accord that paved the way for Saleh’s departure.

The oil-rich kingdom is also a key provider of aid to its impoverished neighbour, and is due to host the next “Friends of Yemen” meeting of donor countries.

Britain’s foreign ministry said on its website that the meeting in Riyadh will take place on May 23.

The forum was set up at an international conference in London in January 2010 to help Sanaa combat a resurgent threat from Al-Qaeda in the ancestral homeland of slain jihadist leader Osama bin Laden, as well as other security challenges.

Donor representatives meeting for preparatory talks in Riyadh last week heard of growing concern about Yemen’s aid situation, which a senior official from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council said was being “seriously hampered” by the political crisis.

The UN World Food Programme has warned that nearly five million Yemenis, or a quarter of the population, face “serious food insecurity.”