US welcomes Yemeni political reforms

Yemen is US` crucial partner in fight against Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula.

Last Updated: Mar 12, 2011, 16:09 PM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama`s top anti-terror advisor John Brennan on Friday called Yemen`s President Ali Abdullah Saleh to welcome his pledge to devolve power and urged the opposition to support the plan.

The call, the latest of a series of contacts between the White House and key anti-terror ally Yemen since a popular revolt erupted, followed a major concession by Saleh designed to end the political crisis.

"Brennan reiterated that representatives of all sectors of the Yemeni opposition should respond constructively to President Saleh`s call to engage in a serious dialogue to end the current impasse," the White House said in a statement.

"Brennan noted that the government and the opposition share responsibility for achieving a peaceful resolution of the crisis.”

"Brennan also stated that a commitment by all sides to participate in an open and transparent process that addresses the legitimate concerns of the Yemeni people provides an orderly path to a stronger and more prosperous nation."

The White House said that Saleh reiterated his hope that the opposition will take part in an immediate dialogue.

Saleh on Thursday bowed to pressure after a month of violent protests, but his pledge to devolve power to Parliament was swiftly rejected as too late by the opposition.

He also ordered his security forces to ensure the safety of anti-government protesters after weeks of unrest in which some 30 people have been killed, part of a wave of popular unrest across the Arab world.

He said he would hold a "referendum before the end of the year on a new constitution clearly stipulating the separation of powers" between the President and the Parliament.

The new charter would "install a parliamentary regime giving all executive powers to a government elected by Parliament," he added.

Yemen is a crucial partner of the United States in the fight against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has plotted attacks against US targets from its redoubts in the country`s unruly tribal regions.

It is also battling sectarian and secessionist violence, which undermine stability and development in one of the poorest countries in the region.

US involvement in Yemen, including special forces advisors, has depended entirely on Saleh, who has dominated the country since coming to power in a military coup in 1978. He became president of a reunified Yemen in 1990.

Washington has expressed concern about violence but Obama`s administration has not pressured Saleh to leave office in the way it leaned on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak before his ouster.

Bureau Report