US urges Yemen’s Saleh to transfer power

Top aide John Brennan delivers US president’s letter to Yemeni leader, urging Saleh to sign off on power transfer deal.

Yemen president
Saleh thanked Obama for ‘his kind and sincere feelings and support’ in a letter sent via Brennan, a Yemeni website said

John Brennan, US President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, has urged Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s injured president, to sign a deal transferring power.

Brennan met Saleh in a face-to-face meeting on Sunday at a military hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where the embattled Yemeni leader is recovering from burns obtained in a bomb attack at his presidential palace last month, the White House said in a statement released the same day.

“During the meeting, Mr. Brennan called upon President Saleh to fulfil expeditiously his pledge to sign the GCC-brokered agreement for peaceful and constitutional political transition in Yemen,” the statement said.

“The United States believes that a transition in Yemen should begin immediately so that the Yemeni people can realise their aspirations.”

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.

Yemeni state television aired footage on Sunday of Saleh, who was badly burned in the blast at his palace in Sanaa, receiving Brennan at the hospital.

Brennan handed Saleh a letter from Obama in which he “expressed his gladness” over the improvement in Saleh’s health, the Yemen’s defence ministry website reported.

Saleh also sent a letter to Obama via Brennan, said.

It said he thanked Obama for “his kind and sincere feelings and for US support for the unity, security and stability of Yemen”.

Saleh also “affirmed Yemen’s need for help and support for its economy and development in order to put an end to poverty and unemployment which presents a fertile environment for the spread of terrorism”, the website said.

Saleh seemed in much better shape in the latest footage than in a prerecorded speech aired on Thursday in which he sat stiffly and looked badly burned.

More than four months of popular uprising seeking to push Saleh from power have shaken the impoverished Arabian peninsula country.

Source: News Agencies