Saleh absence serves Yemen transition: Britain

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A British minister said on Thursday that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's absence abroad for hospital treatment leaves room to push for a transition of power in the strife-riven state.

"We know that the president was badly hurt in the explosion. Those injuries would keep him in hospital for some time," said Alistair Burt, Britain's under-secretary of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on the sideline of a meeting in Abu Dhabi.

"Our sense is that this provides an opportunity for the initiative which has been put forward by the (Gulf Cooperation Council) to succeed," he said.

"We hope time can be taken to do that," he added, referring to the GCC proposal to end Yemen's crisis whereby Saleh would quit office in return for immunity against prosecution.

Saleh, who has refused to sign the deal, is now in Saudi Arabia where he was flown for treatment last Saturday, a day after being wounded in a bomb attack on a mosque in his presidential compound.

There have been conflicting reports about Saleh's health after he was not seen in public following the attack, but Yemeni state media has said that he is no longer in intensive care.

Saleh's deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, said previously the president was recovering and would return to Yemen "within days".

© 2011 AFP

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