The Obama administration has approved Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s request to enter the United States for medical treatment, clearing the way for a transfer of power in the strife-filled country.
Saleh flew out of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, late Sunday and headed for a first stop in Oman, a Yemen spokesman said. It was not clear when he would arrive in the United States or how long he would stay here.
Before leaving, Saleh asked his countrymen for forgiveness in a television address and said he planned to return home after surgery, in time for the swearing in of a presidential successor next month.
He has formally relinquished power to his vice president in anticipation of a presidential election Feb. 21.
The White House has been considering Saleh’s request since December, and a decision to allow him into the United States could be politically risky for President Obama, given Saleh’s repressive 33-year reign and the sustained unrest in Yemen.