Commonwealth `no' to Yemen

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The Independent Online
YEMEN, WHICH faces further questioning by the Government over the death of four hostages in a disastrous rescue attempt, is to have its hopes of joining the Commonwealth dashed, write Julian Kossoff and Marie Woolf.

Foreign office minister Tony Lloyd confirmed that Yemen's recent application to join will fail because it does not meet the entry criteria, which include evidence of good government.

Yesterday, the bodies of the three British hostages were flown home amid growing criticism by the Government of the exercise and Yemen's failure to deliver a full account of the raid.

Ministers have said Britain would be concerned if its advice to seek a negotiated solution had been ignored by the Yemenis.

Reports have also emerged that Yemeni security chiefs knew days before the 16 tourists were kidnapped that Islamic guerrillas were planning to attack a British target.

Yemen's application to join the Commonwealth was first considered at the 1997 heads of government summit in Scotland when President Saleh of Yemen said that the country wanted to develop trade and political relations with Britain as strong as those Lebanon had with France.

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