Reuters: British Prime Minister David Cameron, on a tour of the Middle East, said on Wednesday Britain remained committed to talks with Iran on its nuclear programme and to supporting Yemen’s president in his battle with al Qaeda.
By Regan Doherty
DOHA, Feb 23 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister David Cameron, on a tour of the Middle East, said on Wednesday Britain remained committed to talks with Iran on its nuclear programme and to supporting Yemen’s president in his battle with al Qaeda. The visit takes place as massive protests sweep through Arab countries, threatening the four-decade rule of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi after toppling the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.
“What is happening in Libya is unacceptable,” Cameron said. Hundreds of people have been killed as Gaddafi tries to crush a growing revolt which has stripped him of control of eastern regions of his country.
“Our first priority is to get British nationals out,” Cameron told a news conference in the Qatari capital.
In January, world powers failed to make any progress in two days of talks with Iran on its nuclear programme. The EU and the United States said the discussions were disappointing and no further meetings were planned. “Britain remains committed to talking with Iran, but we will continue to apply pressure. We will not be taken for a ride,” Cameron said.
The six world powers — the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain — have offered a nuclear fuel swap that would effectively reduce Iran’s reserves of low enriched uranium to levels too small to be used to make a bomb. But Iran would have to drop pre-conditions for a deal to happen.
On Yemen, Cameron said Britain would continue to support President Ali Abdullah Saleh against al Qaeda in the impoverished Arab state, which has also been hit by two weeks of protests against Saleh’s 32-year rule.
“We are committed to working with President Saleh to combat the presence of al Qaeda in Yemen,” Cameron said.
Saleh, battling a resurgent al Qaeda wing based in Yemen, also faces a separatist revolt in the south and is trying to maintain a shaky truce with Shi’ite Muslim rebels in the north.
Also on Wednesday, Qatar signed a three-year deal to increase gas exports to Britain, Cameron said. Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. (Writing by Martina Fuchs; Editing by Tim Pearce)