|US counterterrorism chief [L] met Yemeni president [R] on Sunday urging him to sign off on power transfer deal [Reuters]
The top United States counterterrorism official has urged Yemen's interim leader to reconsider a power transfer deal that could end five months of violent protests in the country, government sources have said.
John Brennan, US President Barack Obama's counterterrorism adviser, met Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the Yemeni vice president, on Monday after meeting with President Ali Abdullah Saleh in a Saudi Arabia hospital a day earlier.
Brennan briefed Hadi on the details of his meeting with Saleh, said a Yemeni government official.
"During the meeting, Mr Brennan called upon President Saleh to fulfill expeditiously his pledge to sign the GCC-brokered agreement for peaceful and constitutional political transition in Yemen," the White House said in a statement on Sunday.
"The United States believes that a transition in Yemen should begin immediately so that the Yemeni people can realise their aspirations."
It was the strongest and most public sign yet of US pressure on Saleh to accept the deal, brokered by Gulf Arab countries led by US ally Saudi Arabia.
On the other hand, Hadi briefed Brennan on his previous meeting with the opposition groups regarding a transition plan, which envisions presidential elections two months after the initial handover of power.
Opposition rejects new proposal
A member of the opposition said on Monday that a proposed amendment to the transition plan, presented by Hadi, has been rejected because it was seen as an attempt to bypass the opposition proposal.
Abdullah Obal, an opposition activist, said the proposed amendment extended the transition period beyond the originally suggested period of two months.
Hadi has headed the government since embattled President Saleh left for his neighbouring country for treatment after suffering serious burns in a June 3 attack on presidential compound in Sanaa.
Opposition groups, which have been staging protests since February against more than three-decade rule of Saleh, insist that the Yemeni president must step down immediately and unconditionally.
Brennan is expected to meet with Yemeni opposition groups during his visit.
Saleh, who has ruled Yemen since 1978, has repeatedly refused to sign a plan brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council bloc in which he would hand over power within 30 days in exchange for a promise of immunity from prosecution.
Brennan's visit appeared to reflect Washington's concerns about the growing strength of al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen.