- President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Wednesday received at his residence in Brussels the European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner and discussed relations and areas of cooperation between Yemen and the European Union in addition to assistance offered by the European Union for development projects in Yemen amounting to 81 million euros for the period 2007-2011.
Ms Ferrero-Waldner affirmed the EU keenness on increasing fields of cooperation with Yemen, pointing out the decision taken for opening an office of the European Commission in Sana'a and to begging it work at the beginning of next March for serving the relations between Yemen and the EU.
The European Commissioner praised the democratic pursuit and pluralism in Yemen, indicating that Yemen offered a pioneering example in the democratic practice in the region. She also praised the freedom of the press, respect of human rights and the woman participation in Yemen and affirmed that the EU would not spare any effort in helping Yemen to overcome challenges of development and support its democratic orientations.
She expressed her looking forward that the visit of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the European Parliament to contribute to more cementing of relations and casting light on positive developments going on in |Yemen related to elections and the active democratic practice.
Earlier, president Saleh had received at his residence in Brussels Baroness Emma Nicholson, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament. The president discussed with her relations and fields of cooperation between Yemen and the European Parliament in addition to topics concerning the support offered by the EU to the democratic march and development in Yemen.
Baroness Nicholson praised the democratic practice in Yemen and the advanced steps it has taken in the pluralist democratic practice, the freedom of opinion and expression, the woman participation and respect of human rights. She has pointed out that she felt that during her participation at the head of the European observers team of the presidential and local elections held in Yemen on 20 September 2006.
The European Parliament official also praised the success the elections achieved and described them as successful and decent and considered those elections as bolstered the positive image of Yemen among its European friends and in the world.
President Saleh on his part lauded the role played by baroness Nicholson in the success of the elections and the efforts she exerts in the European Parliament for informing about Yemen and its democratic experiment and in the enhancement of its relations with the EU.
The president also received honorary president of Belgian Senate and reporter of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The meeting discussed the Yemeni-European relations and the efforts for closing down Guantanamo Bay prison. She explained the task entrusted with her for following up the judicial issues of Guantanamo prison and those detained in it.
The president reaffirmed Yemen's stand calling for closing the prison and the demand to hand over the Yemenis detained in Guantanamo. The president expressed his looking forward to an European role for the closure of the prison that contradicts the democratic values and principles of human rights on which the United States wad founded , pointing out the efforts that Yemen exerts in rehabilitation of the elements who were misled with extremist ideas through adoption of ideological dialogue.