Gulf | Yemen

US mulls Saleh travel plea

Yemen's president wants to go to America for treatment

  • AP
  • Published: 00:00 December 27, 2011
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Reuters
  • Protesters rally in Sana’a demanding the prosecution of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Last month, Saleh agreed to a US and Saudi-backed deal to hand power and commit to stepping down completely in exchange for immunity, but Saleh’s opponents demanded he be tried for his attacks on protesters.

Honolulu: The Obama administration is considering whether to allow Yemen's outgoing president into the United States for medical treatment, as fresh violence and political tensions flare up there.

A senior administration official said President Ali Abdullah Saleh's office requested he be allowed to receive specialised treatment for injuries sustained in a June attack on his compound. The request was being considered, and would only be approved for medical reasons, the official said.

Until now, the White House had not commented on Saleh's assertion on Saturday he would be leaving Yemen and travelling to the US. Saleh insisted he was going to help calm tensions in his country, not for medical treatment. The official, who requested anonymity because of a lack of authorisation to speak publicly, did not say when the Obama administration would decide on Saleh's request. But the official said Saleh's office indicated he would leave Yemen soon and spend time elsewhere abroad before he hoped to come to the US.

Security breakdown

Demonstrators began protesting against Saleh and calling for his removal in February.

The Yemeni government responded with a bloody crackdown, leaving hundreds of protesters dead, and stoking fears of instability in a nation already grappling with burgeoning extremism.

Last month, Saleh agreed to a US and Saudi-backed deal to hand power over to his vice-president and commit to stepping down completely in exchange for immunity. The deal further angered Saleh's opponents, who demanded he be tried for his attacks on protesters.

US officials are deeply concerned the months of turmoil in Yemen have led to a security breakdown.

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