White House in touch with Yemen's vice president

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 04, 2011 11:43 PM
White House in touch with Yemen's vice president

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism aide spoke on Saturday with Yemen's vice president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the White House said, amid deepening turmoil in that country.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined further comment on the contact between John Brennan and the Yemeni government, which has been rocked by escalating violence.

The country is in disarray following the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment after a rocket attack on the presidential palace on Friday. The attack followed months of increasingly violent protest against Saleh's three-decade rule.

Al Jazeera television said Yemen's vice president, largely a figurehead, was taking over as acting president and head of the armed forces.

A senior Obama administration official said separately that Washington believed Hadi was viewed very positively within Yemen.

Brennan visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last week to convey Obama's concern over the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, which has been used as a base by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack the United States.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Peter Cooney)