NEW: Saleh could visit "for the sole purpose" of getting medical care, the White House says
Saleh was wounded during an assault against his palace in June
But a party spokesman has said he is not making the trip to seek treatment for his injuries
The president recently signed an agreement to end his 33-year rule
The United States is weighing whether to allow Yemen’s embattled president into the country to seek medical treatment for injuries sustained from an assault against his presidential palace, the White House said Monday.
Saleh was wounded in a June bomb attack, forcing him to seek treatment in Saudi Arabia as protests grew against his 33-year rule. U.S. officials are considering his request to come to America “for the sole purpose of seeking medical treatment,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
No decision had been made Monday evening, Earnest told reporters in Hawaii, where President Barack Obama is on vacation.
It is unclear when Saleh would leave for the United States if permission is granted. And over the weekend, a spokesman for Saleh’s ruling party said the president would not be making the trip for medical reasons.
Saleh, who has agreed to step down from power after months of unrest, wants to “get away from attention, cameras, and allow the unity government to prepare properly for elections,” the spokesman said.
Yemen has been wracked with protests throughout the year, with demonstrators and rival factions demanding the president’s departure and calling for elections. In November, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Saleh had told him he would come to New York for medical treatment after signing an agreement to step down. Under the deal, brokered by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, the president agreed to transfer power into the hands of a coalition government.
While unpopular with many Yemenis, Saleh has been an ally of the United States in its war on terrorism, particularly al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
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CNN’s Mohammed Jamjoom contributed to this report.