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Yemen's President Calls White House Over Comments


President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks during a media conference in Sanaa, Yemen, February 21, 2011

President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks during a media conference in Sanaa, Yemen, February 21, 2011

U.S. officials say Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has called the White House to express regret for any misunderstanding caused by his public criticism of the United States and Israel.

The White House issued a statement saying Mr. Saleh called President Barack Obama's homeland security adviser John Brennan Wednesday.

The statement said President Saleh told Brennan he is firmly committed to meaningful political reform in his country. Mr. Saleh is a key ally of Washington against al-Qaida in Yemen.

According to the White House, Brennan responded by saying any comments that seek to attribute blame for recent developments in the region are unhelpful.

A day earlier, President Saleh accused the United States of fueling the daily protests against him. He said the United States and Israel have been working together to generate unrest designed to destabilize the Arab world. He said the alleged plot had been orchestrated in Tel Aviv under U.S. supervision.

U.S. officials have denied any involvement in the unrest.

Anti-government protests have taken place across Yemen, with at least 24 people killed by government loyalists since the demonstrations erupted last month.

Tuesday's protests were backed for the first time by a coalition of opposition parties that on Monday rejected a proposal from Mr. Saleh to form a unity government. At least 1,000 demonstrators are now permanently camped out on the streets of Sana'a.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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