Yemeni Leader Arrives in U.S. for Medical Treatment

The Yemeni Foreign Press Office announced his arrival around 6:30 p.m., but did not disclose his location. Last month, when the Obama administration decided to permit Mr. Saleh to visit the country, an official said that NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital would be providing the treatment, but the hospital has not confirmed that report. Myrna Manners, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said Saturday night that “he is not currently a patient at the hospital.”

Before arriving in the United States, Mr. Saleh first stopped in Oman, which borders Yemen to the east. He briefly touched down at a commercial airport near London for a “refueling stop,” according to Mohammed Albasha, a Yemeni government spokesman who described the itinerary on his Twitter account.

Mr. Saleh’s visit is particularly contentious. He has become known for his resilience and canny maneuvering in holding onto power for 33 years, and had long been considered an American ally in the fight against Al Qaeda, which has sought a permanent foothold in Yemen. But he has responded to the demonstration movement against him with brutality, instigating a series of violent crackdowns that have killed more than 270 protesters and led to widespread factional violence, according to Human Rights Watch.

Despite the outcry at what has been seen by some as the Obama administration’s decision to harbor a dictator, American officials said his absence from Yemen at this time would smooth the way for the Feb. 21 election that will determine his successor. Mr. Saleh originally said he would postpone any medical trips, citing the need for him to be in the country during the election, but reversed his position several times.

In a deal brokered by Persian Gulf countries, Mr. Saleh agreed in November to resign in exchange for immunity from prosecution for crimes against the protesters.

In Mr. Saleh’s absence, Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the vice president, has assumed leadership duties, Mr. Saleh said in a speech. Mr. Hadi, according to Saba, the state-run news agency, was nominated by Parliament as the candidate for the election.

Mr. Saleh has insisted that he will be back in Sana in time for the swearing-in ceremony for the new president, but whether his medical treatment will be completed by that time is unknown.

In a farewell speech last month, after the Yemeni Parliament granted immunity to the president and several of his aides, Mr. Saleh apologized to Yemenis. “I ask for forgiveness from all my people, men and women, for any shortcomings during my 33-year-long rule,” he said. NYT