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Yemen's Hadi says no talks until rebels surrender arms

Exiled president says dialogue is impossible after insurgents gunned down Saleh

By AFP - Dec 20,2017 - Last updated at Dec 20,2017

This file photo taken on April 5, 2017, shows former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) and his former vice president, Hamid Baghaie, holding hands during a press conference in the capital Tehran. Baghaie said on Wednesday that he had been sentenced to 63 years in prison on financial charges (AFP photo)

RIYADH — Yemen's president has raised the bar for dialogue with the Houthi rebels controlling Sanaa, saying they must surrender their weapons before the start of any peace talks.

"We do not have a partner with whom we can reach peace," Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said at a meeting with a number of ambassadors at his residence in Riyadh on Tuesday night. 

The exiled president said dialogue had become impossible after the insurgents gunned down Yemen's former strongman, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had sought a ceasefire deal with Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has been leading a military intervention in Yemen since 2015 with the aim of restoring Hadi's internationally-recognised government to power. 

The president received the ambassadors just hours after the Houthis targeted Riyadh with a ballistic missile — the second such attack on the Saudi capital in as many months.

"They have proven that they do not tend towards peace ... and any attempt at peace before their weapons are seized is a waste of time," he said. 

Hadi in September warned that a military solution was the "most likely" scenario in Yemen but that his government would "continue to extend its hand to peace". 

On Tuesday, he issued stark conditions for dialogue: the restoration of his government to power, the surrender of Houthi arms and the handover of state institutions. 

 

More than 8,750 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies joined the government's fight against the Houthis, in what the UN has termed the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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