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Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 08:50 GMT
Warship bomb: US appeal to Yemen
USS Cole
The USS Cole is towed out of Aden harbour on Sunday
US President Bill Clinton has said there are "some promising leads" in the investigation of the bombing of the USS Cole but that the Yemeni authorities need to give more help in the case.

The president said that while Yemen had been co-operating fully straight after the attack, the American investigating officers were now having difficulties.

Mr Clinton appealed directly to Yemen's president for access to witnesses, suspects and evidence in the 12 October attack that killed 17 US sailors and wounded 39 others in the port of Aden.

"I hope that we can work it out," he said, "because I do believe that they want to know who did it and I know that we have to find out who did it."

"There are some promising leads out there, we just need to get on it as quickly as possible because the problem in these things is that the trail can get cold."

Suez Canal

The US Central Command, responsible for US military operations in the Middle East, said Washington is working with the Egyptian Government on security arrangements at the Suez Canal.

No US Navy ship has used the canal since the USS Cole shortly before the bombing.

Ali Abdullah Saleh
President Saleh: Investigation is going "very well"

And there are reports that the US naval headquarters in Bahrain has ordered a temporary halt to the use of the Suez Canal by US Navy ships because of terrorist threats.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said he is pleased with the progress in the investigation.

Yemeni authorities believe at least one of the bombers who attacked the Cole was Egyptian - leaders of Islamic Jihad have been arrested.

US officials have a group led by Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden at the top of their list of organisations suspected in the bombing of the USS Cole.

The US believes Osama bin Laden masterminded attacks on two embassies in Africa in 1998.

Co-operation crucial

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Yemeni co-operation was crucial to the investigation.

"We think it's very important for them to be as co-operative as possible in trying to resolve this tragedy, and I think that we have to figure out whether this leads to Osama bin Laden or not.

Aden harbour
Local people watch as the warship is towed away
"But clearly, terrorism that is directed by him is a threat to the United States and to all our peoples," she said.

The American warship severely damaged during the attack earlier this month was towed out of the port of Aden on Sunday.

The destroyer will be loaded onto a Norwegian heavy-lift vessel, which will take it back on its five-week journey back to the US.

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See also:

30 Oct 00 | Middle East
Battered US warship heads home
26 Oct 00 | Middle East
Yemen bomb suspects held
24 Oct 00 | Middle East
American troops on high alert
19 Oct 00 | Middle East
Yemen blast inquiry yields clues
18 Oct 00 | Middle East
Clinton pledges to hunt Yemen bombers
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Explosion hits UK Yemen embassy
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Terror alert after US warship blast
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