Clinton Hopes To Broaden Relations With Yemen During Visit : The Two-Way The secretary of state's visit was 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.
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Renee Montagne and Michele Kelemen

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Clinton Hopes To Broaden Relations With Yemen During Visit

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). Gamal Noman/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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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).

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

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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."