LONDON - Prime Minister Gordon Brown has invited key international partners to a meeting to discuss how to counter radicalisation in Yemen after last week's failed attack on a U.S.-bound plane, his office said on Friday.
Brown will host the event in London on January 28. The high-level meeting will be held in parallel with an international conference on Afghanistan the same day.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who told U.S. investigators he was trained by al Qaeda in Yemen, is accused of trying to blow up a U.S. passenger plane as it approached Detroit on Christmas Day.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's claim that it was behind the attack has also focussed attention on the threat from Yemen.
Yemen's Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said this week there could be up to 300 al Qaeda militants in his country, some of whom may be planning attacks on Western targets. Qirbi appealed for more help from other countries to combat terrorism.
The international community must not deny Yemen the support it needs to tackle extremism, Brown said in a statement.
Brown said earlier on Friday that Yemen presented a regional and global threat as an incubator and potential safe haven for terrorism.
STRENGTHENING COUNTER-TERRORISM EFFORTS
Brown's office said the London meeting would seek to encourage and coordinate efforts by international donors to foster development in areas of Yemen most at risk of radicalisation.
It would discuss what the Yemen government needed to combat terrorism and seek international pledges to train Yemeni security forces, it said.
The meeting would also aim to improve coordination of international counter-terrorism efforts in the region and to promote economic, social and political reform in Yemen.
Brown's office said the meeting would be held in parallel with the previously announced conference on combating the Taliban in Afghanistan because the issues were inter-related and because key delegates would take part in both events.
Foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and some heads of government are expected to attend the Afghanistan meeting.
U.S. officials said this week the United States was looking at ways to expand military and intelligence cooperation with the government of Yemen to increase pressure on al Qaeda militants.
The failed attack has also turned a spotlight on Britain's record in countering Islamic militants. Abdulmutallab studied engineering at University College London from 2005 to 2008.
The New York Times said this week that, if Abdulmutallab was radicalised in Britain, it would show that Britain, a close U.S. ally, poses a major threat to American security.
Brown's office said the plan for the Yemen meeting had received strong support from the White House and the European Union. In the coming days, Britain also aims to secure backing from Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, it said.