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Yemen ex-leader calls for talks with Saudi


Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh (Photo: Reuters)

Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh (Photo: Reuters)

Yemen’s pro-rebel ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh has rejected further peace talks with the government, saying dialogue should instead take place with Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has been leading a military campaign since March against Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels, who have also been supported by Saleh loyalists.

In a speech late Sunday during a meeting with members of his General People’s Congress (GPC) party, UN-sanctioned Saleh said “we will not take part in (future) dialogue… unless the war ends.”

GPC representatives attended UN-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland last week. There was no major breakthrough in the talks but the parties agreed to meet again on January 14.

“And if the war ends, we will hold talks with Saudi Arabia and not with the delegate of escapees,” he said, in reference to the delegation of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognised government, which was forced into months of exile before returning in September to main southern city Aden.

A ceasefire began as the talks opened in Switzerland but was violated daily.

The conflict in Yemen has killed more than 5,800 people since the Saudi-led intervention began in March, according to UN figures.

Saleh ruled Yemen for three decades and maintained good ties with Saudi Arabia before resigning in 2012 following a popular uprising against his rule.

In the speech he offered to “cooperate” with the Huthis to convince them to hold talks with the neighbouring kingdom.

Saleh belongs to the Huthis’ Zaidi offshoot of Shiite Islam.

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