President Saleh in Belgium, Spain soon

SANA’A, Jan. 26 (Saba)- President Ali Abdullah Saleh is to pay official visits by the end of this week to Belgium and Spain to discuss the partnership between Yemen and the European Union and ways to develop relations between the two sides. Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said that President Saleh would meet in the Belgian capital Brussels a number of Belgian and European Commission officials. Al-Qirbi denied the existence of any connection between President Saleh’s visit to Belgium and the armed attack which targeted a group of the Belgian tourists in Hadhramout last week. The European Commission announced on Friday that President Saleh would visit Belgium and the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels next Wednesday and Thursday, pointing out that President Saleh would hold talks with the Commission President Jose Barroso on the cooperation relations between Yemen and EU. In its statement, the Commission pointed that President Saleh would also meet with the European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner and the EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana. The Commission, which plans to lift its diplomatic representation in Yemen in 2008, announced last June to raise the development assistances provided to Yemen to 81 million euros during 2007-2010. Yemen and EU signed in 1998 a convention includes European assistance to Yemen in various economic and development sectors. MD/YA Saba