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Government 'committed on Yemen aid'

The Government is "inclined" to increase the amount of aid it gives Yemen in an effort to stop the country spiralling out of control, ministers have said.

Global attention has once again focused on the country which spawned al Qaida after it emerged it was the source of the ink cartridge bombs found on aircraft last month.

The new head of British Forces, General Sir David Richards, recently ruled out military intervention but said the country must not be allowed to become a second Afghanistan.

Junior International Development Minister Alan Duncan said helping Yemen deal with its security issues, while also providing aid, was the Government's "highest priority". Schools, hospitals and jobs were all receiving British support, as well as the estimated 300,000 refugees in the country, he said.

Meanwhile, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell recently visited Saudi Arabia for talks about Yemen's future.

But the country still faces massive internal security issues. Some $3 billion of pledged financial support, which has accumulated since 2006, remains unspent, Mr Duncan told the Commons.

He said: "Yemen is of the highest priority to the Coalition Government.

"Subject to the Department for International Development's (DFID) bi-lateral aid review and the security situation in Yemen, DFID is inclined to increase its commitment to the country.

"We believe strongly in the power of development to give solid foundations to a country which is facing threats to its stability and economy."

Mr Duncan added: "We want to underpin the country now rather than having to step in later should things get worse. I should stress very strongly we are not telling Yemen what to do, we are working with them as partners to support them in facing their challenges."

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