The US is not planning to deploy ground troops in Yemen where al Qaeda operatives, under pressure in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have become an increasing global threat, a top American general said on Sunday.
At the same time, the Obama administration plans to more than double its security assistance funding to Yemen, from USD 70 million to more than USD 150 million, Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, said.
Petraeus, who recently returned from his visit to the Arab nation, said Yemen's foreign minister was "quite clear that Yemen does not want to have American ground troops there. And that's a good -- good response for us to hear, certainly."
Asked on whether there were plans to send troops there, he replied, "No, of course, we would always want a host nation to deal with a problem itself. We want to help. We're providing assistance."
Petraeus said al Qaeda's growth in Yemen became increasingly worrisome for him two years ago. Washington began to view the ancestral home of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden as a possible haven for the group as early as 2001.
As al Qaeda was pushed out of Saudi Arabia -- and under pressure in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan -- they took refuge in Yemen, he told CNN in an interview to be aired today.
The United States also will provide additional economic aid to Yemen, the heel of the Arabian Peninsula that has also become known for its large ungoverned spaces that provide an oasis to terrorist groups.