U.S. official meets Yemen president Saleh in Riyadh

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 10, 2011 1:23 PM
U.S. official meets Yemen president Saleh in Riyadh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism official, John Brennan, urged Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Sunday to sign a transition plan that will lead to Saleh's departure.

Brennan met Saleh in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where Saleh had flown for medical treatment after the June 3 attack on his presidential compound.

Veteran leaders in Egypt and Tunisia bowed to popular pressure to resign, but Saleh has refused to do so and has hung on to power despite international pressure and six months of protests against his 33-year rule.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement that Brennan wished Saleh a speedy recovery and reiterated U.S. condemnation of the attack against him.

He called on Saleh to fulfill quickly his pledge to sign a Gulf-brokered deal for a peaceful handover of power in Yemen.

"Mr. Brennan emphasized the importance of resolving the political crisis in Sanaa so that the Yemeni government and people can successfully confront the serious challenges they face, including the terrorist attacks carried out by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which have claimed the lives of hundreds of Yemeni citizens," Carney said.

He said Brennan told him the United States is working closely with Yemen's allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Europe, and elsewhere to ensure that much needed assistance will flow to Yemen as soon as the GCC proposal is signed and implemented.

"The United States believes that a transition in Yemen should begin immediately so that the Yemeni people can realize their aspirations," said Carney.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Editing by Sandra Maler)