Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized the importance of economic development in Yemen in combatting extremist groups during an appearance Thursday with the Yemeni foreign minister.
"Our two nations are working together as partners to improve Yemen's capacity to deliver vital services, control its borders, conduct effective counterterrorist activities and improve its services to the people of Yemen," Clinton said during a joint news conference with Abubakr al-Qirbi at the State Department.
Clinton called the meeting with al-Qirbi "productive."
It came less than a month after an attempted airline bombing on a U.S. flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan. The suspect in that attempted attack, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, spent time in Yemen and is said to have acquired the device used in the foiled bombing from someone in that country. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the attempted attack.
"To combat this growing threat, the United States will intensify its cooperation with Yemen on both security and development," Clinton said, adding that a recent assistance agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development will provide $121 million in development and economic assistance to the country.
But, she warned that assistance "depends on Yemen's ability to make the tough choices necessary to improve the capacity to govern, to reform its economy, to protect human rights, to combat corruption and create a better environment for business and investment."
Al-Qirbi said he is "pleased" with the understanding toward the country's plight demonstrated by the Obama administration and said Yemen will "continue to work with the U.S. administration and our partners on development and hope to see a further improvement in relations."
An international conference is set for next week in London to discuss security and development matters.
Earlier Thursday, Yemen announced it is tightening restrictions on people who want to enter the country.
Visas will no longer be issued at any of the Arabian Peninsula nation's borders, according to Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for Yemen's Embassy in Washington. Instead, people wanting to enter Yemen must apply for visas at a Yemeni embassy abroad, and applicants "will be thoroughly vetted and checked to ensure no terrorists or militants slip into the country," he said.
He confirmed that the new restrictions are in response to the attempting airplane bombing, which occurred on Christmas Day.