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US Envoy Demands 'Immediate' Power Transfer in Yemen

Yemen's VP Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi (C) talks with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman (3rd L) in Sanaa, June 22, 2011

A U.S. envoy Thursday called for an "immediate" power transfer in Yemen

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, visited top Yemeni officials in the capital, Sana'a, to try to broker an end to Yemen's political crisis.

Feltman later told reporters that beleaguered President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is recovering in Saudi Arabia from injuries sustained in an attack, should leave office in an "immediate, peaceful, and orderly transition."

Feltman's statements come amid growing international pressure for Saleh to accept a Gulf Arab initiative to end a stalemate paralyzing Yemen's government. Saleh has waffled on the plan as protests continue in Yemen demanding his departure.

Saleh was flown to Riyadh for medical treatment after he was injured in an explosives attack as he prayed at his palace mosque on June 3.

There have been conflicting reports as to if or when Saleh would return to Yemen. Saleh’s supporters have claimed that he will return to Yemen by week's end. But diplomats doubt his return and some supporters say he remains too sick to travel.

Washington is growing concerned about increased activity by Islamic militants in Yemen as the country struggles with a broader opposition uprising against Saleh. Insurgents have launched several attacks in southern Yemen during the country's political unrest.

On Wednesday, security officials in Yemen said about 60 al-Qaida-linked militants escaped from a southern prison after gunmen attacked the facility.

Officials say the attackers and escaping prisoners clashed with guards Wednesday at the prison in Mukalla, leaving one guard dead and two others wounded.

On Sunday, military officials said clashes killed 12 al-Qaida-linked militants and at least two Yemeni soldiers outside the city of Zinjibar.

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

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