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Australian Ambassador sent to Yemen

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FA156 31 December 1998


The Australian Government has now had the first accounts, both from official Government of the Yemen spokesman and from the survivors of the events which led to the tragic deaths in Yemen, including that of the Australian, Andrew Thirsk. These accounts are necessarily

preliminary in nature and have conflicts regarding some crucial elements.

The officer we had already sent to Yemen from our Embassy in Saudi Arabia has been doing a good job, especially in providing the surviving Australian woman with consular assistance and gamering the first pieces of information about the incident.

However, in view of what is clearly an uncertain situation in relation to the urgent follow up to these appalling events, I have recalled our Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mr George Atkin, from his Christmas leave in Australia and asked him to proceed immediately to the Yemen.

I want Mr Atkin to make clear at the highest levels of the Yemeni Government that the death of an innocent Australian is a matter which the Australian Government regards with the utmost seriousness.

I have asked Mr Atkin also to carry out whatever further investigation he can personally make into the circumstances of Mr Thirsk’s death and to press the authorities in Yemen for a full and thorough official investigation, leading to bringing those responsible for his and other

deaths to justice. In pursuing these aims I have asked him to work closely with the other governments involved, particularly the British and American Embassies in Yemen.

Media contact: Innes Willox (0419) 206 890 (Ministerial) Geoff Leach (0418) 623 327 (Departmental)


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