WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has
concluded Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh will not likely
enact reforms demanded by opposition protesters and must be
eased out of office, The New York Times reported Sunday,
citing U.S. and Yemeni officials.
The United States has talked openly of its concern about
who might succeed Saleh, whom it views as an ally who has
helped to contain al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a
Yemen-based wing of the militant group.
Saleh, in power for 32 years, has said he was prepared to
leave eventually but that an abrupt exit would cause chaos.
About 82 people have been killed in anti-government rallies
in the Arabian Peninsula state.
President Barack Obama's administration had supported Saleh
but began to shift position on the Yemeni leader in the past
week, the New York Times said.
American officials have told allies and some reporters that
they now view Saleh's hold on office as untenable and they
believe he should leave, the newspaper reported.
A Yemeni official was cited as saying negotiations with
Saleh on the terms of his possible departure began a little
over a week ago, after gunmen linked to the government killed
more than 50 protesters at an rally on March 18.
"The Americans have been pushing for transfer of power
since the beginning" of the negotiations which were still in
progress, the official told the newspaper.
Under an opposition plan, the army and security forces
would be restructured by a vice president acting as temporary
president, the opposition coalition said Saturday.
Talks have been off and on over the past two weeks,
sometimes in the presence of the U.S. ambassador.
Sources say Saleh wants to ensure he and his family do not
face prosecution over corruption claims that the opposition has
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Christopher Wilson)
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