Obama to meet Yemen leader for talks on Gitmo inmates
President Barack Obama will welcome his Yemeni counterpart for talks next week that could touch on the fate of dozens of Yemenis held at Guantanamo, the White House said Thursday.
The August 1 meeting with President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi aims to "further strengthen our counter-terrorism partnership, and enable the return of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay who have been designated for transfer," the White House said.
The visit, Hadi's second to the White House in less than a year, comes after Obama announced a decision to lift a moratorium on the release of Yemenis held in the offshore prison set up in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Yemen is home to Al-Qaeda's most potent franchise and has been the source of several foiled terror attacks on the United States in recent years.
But its government, despite having only tenuous control over vast swathes of the country, has long been a close ally of the United States in its war against the global terror network.
The White House said the visit would "highlight the strength of the US-Yemeni relationship and underscore the United States' ongoing support for Yemen's political transition."
Hadi assumed power after an 11-month-long Arab Spring-inspired revolt toppled longtime autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh, another close US ally who had ruled the country for 33 years.
Obama imposed a moratorium on the release of Yemeni prisoners after a foiled attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound passenger plane on Christmas Day 2009 was traced back to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
But on May 23 Obama announced he would lift the moratorium, saying the dossiers of the 56 Yemenis who have previously been cleared for transfer would be examined on a case-by-case basis.