By Jill Dougherty
U.S. officials have urged Saleh to step down from office as he promised as part of a political agreement clearing the way to presidential elections in February. US officials previously have said Saleh’s continued presence in the country undermines stability in the fragile nation.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has announced he will not travel to the United States for medical treatment, a diplomat in that country said Wednesday.
The move reverses an earlier decision by Saleh, who said he planned to head to the United States amid the turmoil that continues to engulf his country.
Saleh made the announcement in a meeting in the capital, Sanaa, with senior members of the ruling General People's Congress (GPC) including Cabinet, Parliament and Shura members. Saleh said GPC officials have asked him to stay to help end the current state of turmoil in his homeland, the diplomat said.
U.S. officials had said they would consider allowing the Yemeni leader to seek treatment in New York in an effort to ease tension in the region, despite critics' claims that the move could weaken U.S. standing there and potentially help empower al Qaeda.
Yemen has been wracked with protests throughout the past year, with demonstrators and rival factions demanding Saleh's departure and calling for elections.
The president was badly burned in an attack on his palace in June and underwent treatment in Saudi Arabia for several months before returning to Yemen.
Opposition to Saleh's rule has since led to a presidential power-transfer agreement. Under the November deal, brokered by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, the president agreed to transfer power to a coalition government.
Saleh, while unpopular with many Yemenis, has been an ally of the United States in the war against terrorists, particularly al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. However, the United States had urged him to step down as promised to clear the way for presidential elections to be held in February.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier that Saleh had told him he would come to New York for medical treatment after signing an agreement to end his 33-year rule.