WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says he has no intention of sending American troops to Yemen or Somalia.
Obama told People magazine in an interview to be published Friday that he still believes the center of al-Qaida activity is along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"I never rule out any possibility in a world that is this complex," Obama said. However, he said, "in countries like Yemen, in countries like Somalia, I think working with international partners is most effective at this point."
Terrorism concerns are rising in Yemen, at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula, and in Somalia, critically located along key global shipping routes to Mideast oil fields. U.S. officials say they believe the suspect in the Detroit airliner attack received al-Qaida training in Yemen.
"I have no intention of sending U.S. boots on the ground in these regions," Obama said.
Gen. David Petraeus, who is overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Yemen's foreign minister has made it "quite clear that Yemen does not want to have American ground troops there. And that's a ... good response for us to hear, certainly."
In an interview broadcast Sunday, Petraeus added: "We would always want a host nation to deal with a problem itself. We want to help. We're providing assistance."
And Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN, "Right now, as far as any kind of boots on the ground there, with respect to the United States, ... that's not a possibility."
People magazine conducted its interview with Obama last Friday and released a transcript Sunday. Petraeus appeared on CNN's "Amanpour"; Mullen was on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."