Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yemen’s Saleh Agrees to Transitional Talks With Opposition, Official Says

By Mohammed Hatem - Jun 29, 2011

Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh has authorized the start of transition talks with the nation’s main opposition coalition, said Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, the minister of foreign affairs in the caretaker government.

Saleh, who is in Saudi Arabia recovering for wounds suffered in an attack on the presidential compound, approved talks based on the Gulf Cooperation Council plan and UN Security Council statements, said al-Qirbi in a statement carried on state TV.

That GCC plan, which the United States supports, calls for Saleh to surrender power in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Saleh has agreed to the plan three times in recent months, refusing at the last minute each time to sign an accord.

Ruling party officials have been refusing any talks on power transition awaiting the return of Saleh from Saudi Arabia.

The minister said that he met Saleh today in his hospital in Saudi Arabia and discussed with him the situation in the country and the political crisis.

He said the political talks will involve the main opposition coalition known as Joint Meeting Parties, the separatist Southern Movement and the Shiite Houthi rebels in order “to formulate the new future of Yemen.”

Mohammed Qahtan, spokesman of the JMP, said that the situation of the country does not allow for any more meetings and negotiations.

“The first step should be transferring power to the vice president and then, we can start talking about other issues,” he said by phone. “There is no much time to waste in talks before this step,” Mr Qahtan said by phone.

In a separate televised message, Health Minister Abdulkarim Rasee said that he also met with Saleh and that he is in good health. Saleh will address the nation soon and talk to the people about about his health, he said.

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