By Fakhri al-Arashi
British ambassador to Yemen Nicholas Hopton was pleased about the guest list for a party celebrating the Queen’s birthday at the ambassador’s residence on 21 April.
“The guests were from across the Yemeni political spectrum, representing the north and south,” Hopton said.
The Queen’s birthday celebration is the UK equivalent of a National Day. The event is celebrated by British embassies in June for the official birthday celebration, or in April for her actual date of birth.
This year’s gathering comes during an important time in the lives of Yemenis, the ambassador stated.
“We are working with the government of Yemen, National Dialogue delegates, officials and all Yemenis to overcome challenges during the transition.”
The UK is very influential in the political, social and economic sectors, where it is putting in a lot of resources to assist Yemen with development and humanitarian needs, Hopton said.
Regarding recent National Dialogue withdrawals, the ambassador said it was too early to judge the conference and that there was a lot of politics to be played – people are certain to come and go.
Additionally, there are other ways for Yemeni political leaders to engage with the dialogue, they do not need to be members.
While southern leaders like Ahmed Bin Farid Al-Suraimah have an important role to play, Hopton said, the dialogue does not depend on Al-Suraimah.
It’s too early to give a detailed analysis of the dialogue, Hopton stated. Working groups have not really started their work yet. Despite this, he is pleased that dialogue delegates seem to be taking the event seriously. They seem interested in working together, the ambassador said, which is very promising.
Toward the end of his meeting with the press, Hopton emphasized that Yemen’s situation is serious, and that poverty must be tackled. The international community has raised USD 8 billion and is prepared to do more to help Yemen, the ambassador said. He called on the government to end delays and to immediately start projects that will help the country’s poor.
Hopton said that senior Yemeni businessmen will travel to London soon to explain to the British private sector why they should invest in Yemen.
The event was attended by senior officials from government, civil and media sectors. The guest of honor was Foreign Minister Dr. Abubakr al-Qirbi.
Dr. al-Qirbi praised the warm relations between the two countries, thanking the UK for its support in the transitional process, and saying he looked forward to continued support, friendship and cooperation in the future.