Dubai: A report claiming that Yemen accused the United Arab Emirates of sending separatists to an island off the Arabian Sea is false, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has said.
The official was commenting on a Reuters report alleging that the Yemeni government had accused the UAE of landing around 100 southern separatist fighters in the remote island of Socotra this week.
“This is one of the false news items I read today,” Gargash said in a terse tweet late Wednesday.
Yemeni officials said around 100 separatist fighters had disembarked in civilian clothes on Monday from a UAE naval vessel on Socotra, the main island in a sparsely populated Yemeni archipelago in the Arabian Sea.
The island, part of Yemen but closer to the African coast than the Yemeni mainland, is a UNESCO world natural heritage site protected by the UN body for its unique flora and fauna.
The UAE has also previously denied Yemeni accusations that it is seeking control of the island.
The separatists say they have more than 50,000 fighters armed and trained by the UAE and aim to restore the independent state of Southern Yemen, which united with northern Yemen in 1990 at the end of a long war.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are spearheading a military campaign in Yemen in support of the country’s internationally-recognised government against Iran’s allied militant Al Houthis.
The two countries have also poured billions of dollars into Yemen’s war-battered economy and in humanitarian assistance to Yemenis.