UK cuts staff in Yemen, urges Britons to leave

Britain urged its nationals to leave Yemen because of worsening violence.

Updated: May 27, 2011, 12:10 PM IST

London: Britain urged its nationals on Thursday to leave Yemen immediately because of worsening violence and said it was reducing staffing at its embassy there.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said it would be extremely difficult for the British government to help its nationals in Yemen to reach safety if violence spread.

"I therefore reiterate our clear advice that British nationals ... should leave Yemen immediately while commercial flights are still operating," he said in a statement after a government crisis committee met to review the Yemen violence.

Because of the deteriorating situation, Hague said Britain was temporarily removing four staff members from its embassy in Yemen, leaving the minimum needed to work on the most vital British national interests.

More than 40 Yemenis were killed in pitched street battles in the capital Sana’a on Thursday as fighting aimed at ending President Ali Abdullah Saleh`s three-decade-long rule threatened to ignite civil war.

Hague condemned the latest violence and said he was appalled by the deaths. He urged Saleh to sign a transition agreement that would see him cede power.

Hague also said he had met Bahrain`s Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, on Wednesday and had made clear Britain`s "strong concern over the recent arrests of protesters and medical staff" there.

Bahrain suppressed a wave of pro-democracy protests this year.

"We agreed on the need for a long term political solution in Bahrain and I welcomed the role the Crown Prince intends to play in building a dialogue," Hague said.

"I call on the government of Bahrain to create the conditions under which this can take place and on all sides, including opposition groupings, to engage," he said.

Bureau Report