February 3rd, 2011
06:19 PM ET

POTUS and VPOTUS call counterparts facing unrest

WASHINGTON (CNN) – While keeping close watch of events in Egypt, President Obama made a phone call to President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Yemen.

“President Obama asked that Yemeni security forces show restraint and refrain from violence against Yemeni demonstrators who are exercising their right to free association, assembly, and speech,” the White House said in a written statement. “The President also told President Saleh that it is imperative that Yemen take forceful action against Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to protect innocent lives in Yemen as well as abroad. Finally, President Obama expressed concern over the release of Abd-Ilah al-Shai, who had been sentenced to five years in prison for his association with AQAP.”

The United States has increased its support for the Yemeni government as it fights terrorist threats within its borders. “President Saleh thanked the President for U.S. Support and committed to continuing and strengthening relations with the United States,” the White House said in the release.

Saleh is facing opposition of his own as anti-government protestors marched in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on Thursday. Saleh, who has been in power for over 30 years, had announced earlier that he will not run for re-election when his current term ends in 2013. The protestors went ahead with their march despite Saleh’s announcement.

Vice President made a call of his own Thursday to Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman to restate President Obama’s condemnation of violence in Egypt according to a separate written statement from the White House.

“Vice President Biden urged that credible, inclusive negotiations begin immediately in order for Egypt to transition to a democratic government that addresses the aspirations of the Egyptian people,” the statement said. “He stressed that the Egyptian government is responsible for ensuring that peaceful demonstrations don’t lead to violence and intimidation and for allowing journalists and human rights advocates to conduct their important work, including immediately releasing those who have been detained.”

Biden also reiterated Obama’s support for universal rights including the right to peaceful assembly, association and speech the White House said.

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