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Report Says U.S. No Longer Back Yemeni President

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh at a rally of supporters in Sanaa on April 1
"The New York Times" says the United States has begun privately advocating for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave office, in an apparent shift in policy toward a key U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism.

U.S. officials have not publicly criticized the Yemeni leader even as weeks of protests against his government turned violent.

But unnamed U.S. and Yemeni government sources told "The New York Times" that President Barack Obama's administration now believes Saleh's hold on office is untenable and that he should leave.

The newspaper cites a Yemeni official as saying Washington is now pushing for a transitional government, and that negotiations on the terms of Saleh's possible departure began in Sanaa a week ago.

At a meeting in Riyadh on April 3, the Gulf Cooperation Council said it was willing to mediate between the Yemeni government and opposition to resolve the political crisis.

At least 52 people have died and hundreds have been injured since antigovernment protests began in Yemen in February, following the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

compiled from agency reports