America urges Saleh not to return to Yemen

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The Independent Online

The United States has urged the Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, not to return home from Saudi Arabia, where he has been recovering after an assassination attempt during a popular uprising.

Diplomatic sources said yesterday that the message was conveyed directly to Mr Saleh, who emerged on Sunday from the Riyadh hospital where he had been receiving treatment since a bomb attack in his palace on 3 June left him with severe burns and other wounds.

The latest development in the wrangle over Mr Saleh's fate came as he renewed a vow to return as soon as his health permits to Yemen, where six months of protests have seen the impoverished state slide toward the brink of civil war.

The US and Saudi Arabia, both targets of foiled attacks from al-Qa'ida's Yemen-based branch and wary of chaos that could embolden the group, have tried to ease Mr Saleh from office with a plan brokered by Yemen's richer Gulf neighbours.

He has backed out of a deal at the last minute on three occasions, the last of which led to fighting between his forces and fighters from the al-Hashed group, which wants an end to his 33 years of rule.