SANAA // Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is to travel abroad for unspecified medical treatment, an aide said yesterday.
His opponents said his absence would improve the chances of success in reconciliation talks that are seen as crucial for stabilising the impoverished country. They are expected to begin next month.
Mr Saleh, 69, who will probably b absent during the discussions, remains influential in Yemen. His continuing sway over the country is worrying Arabian Gulf countries and western nations, who fear the political transition could descend into chaos.
The Gulf Cooperation Council sponsored a deal that saw Mr Saleh step aside in February 2011 after a year of protests against his rule, allowing his deputy, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, to take office.
Yemeni officials said pressure has been mounting for Mr Saleh to leave Yemen to ease tensions, particularly after his announcement that he would head his party, the General People's Congress (GPC), in the national talks.