Yemen claims that the U.S. exaggerates the size & danger of al-Qaeda in the country, insisting that fighting the group’s local branch remains Sanaa's job.
A Yemeni official has denied "press leaks published in U.S. and Western media that exaggerate the size of al-Qaeda and the danger that it poses to Yemen's stability and security," according to Saba state news agency.
An unnamed U.S. counter-terrorism official had told AFP Wednesday that the United States was increasingly concerned about the threat posed by al-Qaeda in Yemen and that it was moving to pile pressure on the militants.
He said al-Qaeda affiliates had regrouped in Yemen and emerged as a "virulent" danger.
"They're not feeling the same kind of heat -- not yet, anyway -- as their friends in the tribal areas" of Pakistan, he said, adding that "everyone involved on our side understands that has to change."
The U.S. official spoke following reports in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post citing U.S. officials as saying that the new assessment of the threat raised the prospect of expanded U.S. operations in Yemen, including CIA drone strikes.
"Yemen insists that fighting terrorism in Yemen remains the responsibility of Yemeni security authorities," the Sanaa official said, according to Saba.
"Yemeni forces, with the support of friends and brothers, are capable of bearing their full responsibilities in eliminating al-Qaeda elements," he said.
Yemen has intensified its military campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group's local franchise, since December, mainly after the Christmas Day botched attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had spent time in Yemen.
The U.S. military conducted a secret air strike in May against a suspected group of Al-Qaeda militants in the remote desert of Marib province, the New York Times reported earlier this month, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
The U.S. administration has also confirmed it is actively hunting down Anwar Al-Awlaqi, a U.S.-born cleric in Yemen who has praised Abdulmutallab, and blessed a shooting rampage last year at Fort Hood in Texas by a Muslim U.S. Army