(Adds more Obama comment, background)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said
Wednesday the United States welcomed the signing by Yemeni
President Ali Abdullah Saleh of an accord under which he
immediately transferred power to the country's vice president.
"This represents an important step forward for the Yemeni
people, who deserve the opportunity to determine their own
future," Obama said in a statement.
Under the agreement, signed with the Yemeni opposition at a
ceremony hosted by Saudi King Abdullah in the capital Riyadh,
Saleh transferred powers to his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi,
ahead of an early election. In return he will receive immunity
"For 10 months, the Yemeni people have courageously and
steadfastly voiced their demands for change in cities across
Yemen in the face of violence and extreme hardship," the U.S.
Hundreds were killed during protests to overthrow Saleh
that erupted amid the Arab Spring that saw the collapse of
regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and fear Yemen's al Qaeda
wing may exploit the ensuing instability and take deeper root
in the country.
"The United States urges all parties to move immediately to
implement the terms of the agreement, which will allow Yemen to
begin addressing an array of formidable challenges and chart a
more secure and prosperous path for the future,' Obama said.
(Reporting by Alister Bull; editing by Anthony Boadle)
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