US says no plans to move embassy in Yemen to Aden

AFP , Tuesday 3 Mar 2015

The United States is not planning to follow its Gulf partners and move its embassy in Yemen to the southern city of Aden, a top State Department official said Tuesday.

Washington closed its mission in the capital Sanaa earlier this month in the face of growing unrest, moving all its remaining American staff out of Yemen.

Ambassador Matthew Tueller will now be based out of an office in the Saudi port of Jeddah, the US official said ahead of a visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Tueller visited Yemen's embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in Aden on Monday, saying afterwards he remains the "legitimate" leader of the troubled Gulf country.

Several Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, wary of the Shiite Huthi militia which has seized the Yemeni capital, have announced they will move their embassies.

But the State Department official said: "We don't have any plans to open our embassy in Aden."

"Ambassador Tueller, in order to be closer to the situation in Yemen, will be establishing an office in Jeddah, and will be operating out of there," he told reporters.

"We hope that he'll be able to travel into Yemen, into Aden, on a fairly regular basis to continue our engagements with the Yemenis there."

The Huthis, who had long fought the Sanaa government from their northern stronghold, overran the capital in September and moved on to occupy the seats of power in February.

They named a "presidential council" after Western-backed Hadi and Prime Minister Khalid Bahah tendered their resignations in January in protest at what critics branded an attempted coup.

Hadi retracted his resignation shortly after resurfacing in Aden, while Bahah remains under house arrest in the capital.

Kerry was to travel from Switzerland, where he is holding nuclear talks with Iran, to Saudi Arabia to meet new King Salman as well as with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council on Thursday.

He had initially planned to meet the GCC ministers in London on Friday, but the venue was changed to Riyadh.

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