2011-12-26 / World

U.S. weighing request for Yemen’s leader

HONOLULU ( AP) — The Obama administration is considering whether to allow Yemen’s outgoing president into the United States for medical treatment, as fresh violence and political tensions flare in the strategically important Middle Eastern nation.

A senior administration official said President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s office requested that he be allowed to receive specialized treatment in the U.S. for injuries sustained in a June attack on his compound. The request was being considered, and would only be approved for medical reasons, the official said.

Until now, the White House had not commented on Saleh’s assertion Saturday that he would be leaving Yemen and traveling to the U. S. Saleh insisted he was going in order to help calm tensions in his country, not for medical treatment.

The official, who requested anonymity because of a lack of authorization to speak publicly, did not say when the Obama administration would decide on Saleh’s request. But the official said Saleh’s office indicated that he would leave Yemen soon and spend time elsewhere abroad before he hoped to come to the U.S.

Demonstrators began protesting against Saleh and calling for his ouster in February. The Yemeni government responded with a bloody crackdown, leaving hundreds of protesters dead, and stoking fears of instability in a nation already grappling with burgeoning extremism.

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