U.S. pushes for immediate transition in Yemen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States made clear on Monday it wants Yemen’s government to seize on the absence of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to try to effect a peaceful, orderly political transition.

“We think an immediate transition is in the best interests of the Yemeni people,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said when asked if Saleh, who is in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment after an attack on his palace, should remain abroad.

Clinton, at a news conference with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, said “the instability and lack of security currently afflicting Yemen cannot be addressed until there is some process that everyone knows is going to lead to the sort of economic and political reforms that they are seeking.”

Diplomats and analysts believe Saleh’s stay in Saudi Arabia might be prolonged as the regional heavyweight tries to broker a power transition to prevent the implosion of its neighbor.

International pressure has mounted on all parties to find a way to end clashes bringing Yemen to the brink of civil war due to worries it could become a failed state home to an al Qaeda wing next to Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter.

“(Saleh) is in Saudi Arabia receiving medical treatment. There is a civilian government that remains in place in Yemen. We believe that the time is now to begin that peaceful transition toward a democratic process,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.