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Yemen's president apologizes to U.S., White House says

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in a speech Tuesday, blamed the U.S. and Israel for destabilizing Arab rulers. Wednesday, Saleh called and spoke with deputy national security advisor John Brennan 'to convey his regret for misunderstandings' and to say that he is 'firmly committed to meaningful political reform in Yemen,' the White House announces.

March 02, 2011|By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times

Yemen's president has apologized to Washington for any misunderstanding caused by his comments that blamed the United States and Israel for destabilizing Arab rulers, the White House announced on Wednesday.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh also said he remains committed to political reform in Yemen, the White House said after the Wednesday telephone call from Saleh to John Brennan, deputy national security advisor for homeland security and counter-terrorism.

In a Tuesday speech at Sana University in Yemen, Saleh criticized the United States and Israel for helping anti-government protesters in several Arab countries. Hundreds of thousands have called for Saleh's ouster during demonstrations in Yemen in the past month.

Saleh also blamed President Obama for meddling in the affairs of Arab countries.

"Every day we hear a statement from Obama saying, 'Egypt you can't do this, Tunisia don't do that,'" Saleh told students and professors. "What do you have to do with Egypt? Or with Oman? Are you president of the United States or president of the world?"

According to the White House, Saleh called Brennan "to convey his regret for misunderstandings related to his public remarks that Israel and the United States have engaged in destabilizing activities in Arab countries."

Saleh "also said that he is firmly committed to meaningful political reform in Yemen and that he is reaching out to opposition elements in an effort to achieve reform through a democratic, inclusive, and peaceful process," the White House said.

Brennan repeated Obama's calls for all sides to pursue their interests in a nonviolent manner, the White House said.

Yemen receives military aid and has allowed U.S. drone strikes on Al Qaeda targets.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

Twittter.com/LATimesmuskal

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