U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on Yemen to boost screening on cargo following a foiled parcel bomb plot against U.S. targets last week, saying U.S. relationship with the Arabian country is focused on counterterrorism issues, Xinhua reported.
"The president emphasized the need for Yemen to help reinforce confidence in the cargo air shipment sector through strengthening of security measures," the White House quoted Obama's speech with Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh in a phone conversation.
Obama told Saleh that U.S. relationship with his country is " focused on counterterrorism issues as well as building a stable and prosperous Yemen through economic and humanitarian assistance. "
The two leaders condemned al-Qaeda's "attempt to smuggle improvised explosive devices (IED) into printer cartridges that were sent to two addresses in Chicago," and discussed ongoing cooperation against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the al-Qaeda affiliate based in Yemen which Obama blamed for trying to smuggle in IEDs hidden in parcels through U.S.-bound cargo planes to blow up synagogues in Chicago.
The two parcels from Yemen were intercepted respectively last Friday in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and at Britain's East Midlands Airport on a tip-off from Saudi Arabia. Obama has vowed to destroy the AQAP through cooperation with the Yemeni government, saying the terrorist group "continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies."
Last year, the AQAP claimed responsibility for a failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a U.S. passenger plane bound for Detroit.
In their phone conversation, Obama and Saleh also discussed the importance of the global community coming together to assist Yemen in building its security capabilities. The White House said Saleh "made a full commitment to cooperate with the United States as well as with ongoing investigations" in Britain and the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Monday that U.S. aid to Yemen totaled about 296 million dollars in the fiscal year that just ended.