Saudi Arabia, which co-chaired the “Friends of Yemen Group” conference in London on Tuesday, has allocated most of the $3.25 billion in aid it pledged to Yemen, a neighboring nation grappling with a host of challenges including terrorism.
“The Kingdom has deposited $1 billion in the Yemeni Central Bank in the form of a loan,” said Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi, Yemeni foreign minister, who was speaking after the conclusion of the London conference on Wednesday.
In a statement released after the meeting, the group urged Sanaa to set out a clear timetable for a referendum on a new constitution and subsequent elections, as the military continued a major offensive against Al-Qaeda militants in the south of the country.
A steering committee to coordinate support for Yemen was also announced, besides the creation of three working groups focused on key economic, political and security reforms.
“The conference reiterated that the only way to a united, peaceful, stable and prosperous Yemen is through the implementation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative,” said the statement.
It said Saudi Arabia, together with five other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), have contributed about 70 percent of the total pledges made by the group.
The $1 billion loan is in addition to several other projects being funded by the Kingdom and its aid agencies, like the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) in Yemen.
Early this year, the Kingdom donated $200 million to Yemen to build the world-class King Abdullah Medical City in Sanaa.
Riyadh has been the main fundraiser for the impoverished nation, besides being one of the brokers of Yemen’s 2011 power transfer deal that saw long-serving President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.
The Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have been at the forefront of assistance to Yemen. A Yemeni-GCC panel met in Riyadh a week before the London conference to determine Yemen’s developmental needs.

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