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US considering travel request from Yemen's Saleh

US authorities are weighing whether to accept embattled Yemeni leader

  • Reuters
  • Published: 08:30 December 27, 2011
  • Gulf News

Ali Abdullah Saleh
  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Ali Abdullah Saleh was injured in a June assassination attempt that forced him into a hospital in Saudi Arabia.

Honolulu: The US government is trying to decide whether to let Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh travel to the United States for medical treatment, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday.

Saleh was injured in a June assassination attempt that forced him into a hospital in Saudi Arabia, and transferred power to his vice president last month after months of protests that brought the Gulf country to the brink of civil war.

Earnest declined to say when a decision on whether to allow Saleh into the United States would be made, and denied a New York Times report that the embattled Yemeni president's petition was accepted and he could arrive at New York-Presbyterian Hospital as soon as the end of this week.

"US officials are continuing to consider President Saleh's request to enter the country for the sole purpose of seeking medical treatment, but initial reports that permission has already been granted are not true," Earnest said in Hawaii, where President Barack Obama is vacationing.

Earlier on Monday, an Obama administration official said Saleh's office had contacted the US Embassy in Sana'a to say the Yemeni leader wanted to get specialised care in the United States to treat injuries sustained in the assassination attempt.

The attempt on Saleh's life came after he tried to duck the power-transfer accord brokered by Gulf Arab nations, sparking street battles that devastated parts of the capital.

Saleh had suggested he would undergo medical tests in the United States but characterized the trip as one of temporary exile.

"I will go to the United States. Not for treatment, because I'm fine, but to get away from attention, cameras, and allow the unity government to prepare properly for elections," Saleh said. "I'll be there for several days, but I'll return because I won't leave my people and comrades who have been steadfast for 11 months."

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