Ali Abdullah Saleh

December 28, 2011 by staff 

Ali Abdullah SalehAli Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s embattled president, seeking the green light to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, is expected to be granted a visa within days, a Middle East diplomat said Tuesday.

“We are not aware of any major issues, so I think in the next few days he will most likely get the visa,” the diplomat told the Daily News.

“For the time being, no one is seeing any alarming indicators that it will be denied, but it has not been issued as yet.”

The diplomat spoke out amid conflicting accounts of the status of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s trip.

The Washington Post reported that Yemeni officials were surprised Tuesday by White House statements signaling that the decision was still being considered.

American embassy officials “called us again today and confirmed the visa,” said Sultan al-Barakani, a senior ruling party official. “And they requested to know the date of the travel and the route.”

On the same day, a White House spokesman struck down a New York Times report saying that the Obama administration had approved Saleh’s request and that the injured leader could be admitted to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital by the end of the week.

The debate over how to handle Saleh is especially delicate because the image of the U.S. coming to the aid of a reviled Middle East tyrant could trigger an anti-American backlash.

Saleh was injured in June when bombs struck his presidential palace.

Yemen has been roiled by violence for months. Saleh’s security forces are believed to have killed hundreds of protesters calling for him to relinquish power.

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