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Volume 554: debated on Tuesday 4 December 2012

The United Kingdom plays a leading role in supporting the political transition efforts in Yemen. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary chairs the Friends of Yemen ministerial group, and our ambassador is in regular contact with Government, the opposition and civil society in Yemen.

I thank the Minister and the Foreign Secretary for giving Yemen their personal attention. I draw his attention to the publication today of the Amnesty International report showing that Ansar al-Sharia might be resurgent in the southern part of Yemen. They were responsible for extra-judicial killings, crucifixions and torture. What support can the Government give to President Hadi to deal with this terrible group?

In return, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his unfailing attention to this, his courtesy in dealing with us and our officials, and the work of his all-party group.

The circumstances in the south continue to cause great concern. I am aware of the Amnesty International report, and we will continue to work in the south to bring the parties together and resolve the political difficulties that are now part of the national political dialogue. However, the re-entry into the area of such an unpleasant and dangerous group will be a focus of a visit to Yemen that I hope to make in the not-too-distant future, when I hope to be able to raise the subject directly with the authorities there.

Will the Minister please ensure that the political settlement process remains as genuinely inclusive as possible? In particular, will he ensure that the temptation to exclude the Houthi group, for being pro-Iranian, or parts of the Hirak, because of their extremism, is resisted and that as many people as possible are at the table?

As my hon. Friend knows from his own recent activities there, the Yemeni process manages to bring together people who, in other circumstances, it might be difficult to get round the table. I have not yet experienced a sense of exclusion of certain parties, but it is always a danger. If there is to be an answer in Yemen—among the many difficulties in the region, the process in Yemen towards a political transition has been more successful than most—it is essential that it comprises all those with a role to play. Certainly, his concerns will be borne in mind by the ambassador and all the rest of us.