‘US gives nod to Yemeni Prez`s visit to America’

Saleh will step down after presidential elections in February.

New York: The Obama administration has given
an "in principle" nod to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh`s
visit to the US for medical treatment, with the embattled
leader likely to arrive at a hospital by the end of the
week, a media report said.

The approval for Saleh`s visit to the US is however
conditional upon "certain assurances" including a proposed
itinerary, a report said.

The report quoted administration officials as saying
that while no visa has yet been issued to Saleh, there was no
further "impediment" to issuing the visa and he could arrive
at "New York`s Presbyterian Hospital as soon as the end of
this week" for additional treatment of medical problems he has
due to injuries he sustained in a bomb blast in June at the
mosque in his presidential complex.

It is expected that Saleh will seek treatment at the
NewYork-Presbyterian. The hospital`s spokeswoman Myrna Manners
said in the report she could not confirm whether Saleh would
be going there. "As of now, we are not admitting him to
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital," she said.

Saleh will step down after presidential elections in
February. He had said last week he wanted to visit the United
States but had added that he was not seeking treatment for
wounds he had sustained in the attack.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had previously said that
Saleh would visit New York for medical treatment.

The report said the decision to admit the Yemeni leader`s
request has led to a heated debate within the Obama
administration, amid concerns by some officials that in
allowing Saleh to enter the country, the administration will
"face sharp criticism for appearing to provide a safe haven
for a reviled Arab figure accused of responsibility for the
death of hundreds of anti-government protesters."

While the Obama administration is keen on seeing
political progress in Yemen, it does not want to allow Saleh
to use his medical visit as a way to shore up his political
position, the report said.

If Saleh is issued the visa, he would be the first Arab
leader to be granted request for an extended stay in the US
since the uprising began in the Middle East region almost a
year ago.

"In the end, we felt there was enough good to be gained
that it was worth managing the criticism that we`d get,
including any comparisons to past episodes," an official said,
referring to President Jimmy Carter`s decision in 1979 to
admit the ailing Shah of Iran into the US for treatment.

"The main goal is to remove him physically from Yemen so
there`s no way he can meddle in the political process there,"
the official said.

Saleh had contacted the American Embassy in Yemen`s
capital Sana regarding the visa, officials said.


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