UK says Yemen can't join Commonwealth

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The Independent Online
YEMEN, which is facing further questioning by the Government over the death of four kidnapped hostages after a disastrous rescue attempt, is to have its hopes of joining the Commonwealth dashed.

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

Yesterday the bodies of the three British hostages killed during the bungled rescue attempt by Yemeni troops were being flown home, amid increasing criticism by the Government of the exercise, and dissatisfaction over not receiving a full account of the raid.

Ministers have said Britain would be very concerned if it turned out that its advice to seek a negotiated solution to the kidnap 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 told Tony Blair and Robin Cook that the country wanted to develop trade and political relations with Britain as strong as those Lebanon had with France.

But the Foreign Office has confirmed that Yemen's application will be turned down. "Clearly at the moment there are some issues that have to be resolved," said Foreign Office minister, Tony Lloyd.

Britain has told Yemen's ambassador that it is dissatisfied with the Yemenis' account of the shoot-out with the kidnappers which led to four of them being used as human shields and shot.

Focus, page 19

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