America

Clinton Hopes To Broaden Relations With Yemen During Visit

We all awoke this morning to the news that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Yemen — a trip kept secret until after she had arrived because of the serious security issues involved with having America's top diplomat go to a nation where al-Qaida affiliated terrorists are known to operate.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is welcomed by Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qurbi, at Sanaa airport upon her arrival earlier today (Jan. 11, 2011). i i

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is welcomed by Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qurbi, at Sanaa airport upon her arrival earlier today (Jan. 11, 2011). Gamal Noman/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Gamal Noman/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is welcomed by Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qurbi, at Sanaa airport upon her arrival earlier today (Jan. 11, 2011).

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is welcomed by Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qurbi, at Sanaa airport upon her arrival earlier today (Jan. 11, 2011).

Gamal Noman/AFP/Getty Images

NPR's Michele Kelemen is among the reporters traveling with Clinton, and on Morning Edition she told co-host Renee Montagne that the State Department says the former first lady is there because she "wants to broaden relations" with that country — while also "reaching out to [its] civil society" to push for political reforms there.

Plus, Michele said, Clinton wants to impress upon Yemen's leaders that "it's in their interest, not just America['s] interest" to disrupt any al-Qaida "safe haven."

Here's the conversation between Renee and Michele:

Renee Montagne and Michele Kelemen

The Washington Post adds that:

"Clinton's visit, which was kept under wraps as a security precaution, is the first by a U.S. secretary of state since a brief stop by then-Secretary of State James A. Baker III in 1990. The nine-hour visit was expected to include wide-ranging talks with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as meetings with opposition leaders and ordinary Yemeni citizens."

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