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President Saleh Visits Russia Soon Yemen to Sign Large Weapon Deals

  Written By: Hasan Al-Zaidi ( YEMEN POST STAFF ) 
  Article Date:
November 10, 2008



Official sources revealed that President Ali Abdullah Saleh is expected to visit Russia next Wednesday. The visit marks the 80th anniversary of Yemeni-Russian bilateral relations.

The visit is made in response to a visit extended by the Russian counterpart as the invitation was delivered by the Chairman of the Council of Russian Federation Surgey Mironov who visited Yemen late last month.

Mironov announced then that his country would deploy a warship to release the Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and other military hardware which had been seized by Somali pirates.

Some sources did not rule out that this shipment was heading to Yemen and was part of the weapons deal between Yemen and Russia through a third party. It was announced then that the shipment belonged to Sudan.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese President Omar Hasan Al-Bashir's special envoy Mohammed Hasan Al-Bashir arrived in Sana'a last Friday who conveyed a verbal letter to President Saleh from his Sudanese counterpart.

Yemeni-Russian bilateral relations have recently developed at all levels and Yemen is considered among the biggest importers of Russian weapons in the Middle East. Some sources stress that it just follows Syria as for the volume of weapons sales from Russia in the Middle East.

Russian Ambassador to Sana'a mentioned that three high-level Yemeni delegations have visited Russia in 2008 including a visit by the Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi, a visit by Defense Minister Brig. Mohammed Nasser Ahmed and a visit by the head of Shura Council Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani, hinting these visits reflect the developed relations between both countries.

President Saleh's last visit to Moscow was in 2002 when Yemen and Russia signed friendships and cooperation agreements together with agreement in several fields.

As early as January 2000, Yemen signed an agreement with Russia to reschedule the country's debts that had remained after dropping 80 percent of debts in Paris Club mounting then to $6.7 billion, mostly owed by what was known to be the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, or South Yemen.