WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Washington believes Yemen can move forward politically without the Yemeni president in the country, a State Department official said.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was released from a hospital in Saudi Arabia during the weekend, nearly two months after wounds in a June 3 attack on his presidential compound.
Saleh has struggled to maintain his grip on power for much of the year, handing authority to his vice president while convalescing in Riyadh.
Abdullah Ghanim, a top-ranking official in Yemen's ruling General People's Congress, told the official Saba news agency that the vice president doesn't hold the political future of the country in his hands.
"President Ali Abdullah Saleh is still Yemen's legitimate president until presidential elections are held," he was quoted as saying.
Saleh has faced international pressure to move aside. He's repeatedly refused to sign a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council for his resignation, however.
Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Yemen should move "immediately" toward political transition. Asked about what would happen if Saleh returned, he said "he's not in the country right now, so we believe it can move forward without him."