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Yemen rejects Iran mediation, insists rebels surrender

AFP , Monday 20 Apr 2015
Smoke rises during an air strike on an army weapons depot on a mountain overlooking Yemen's capital Sanaa April 20, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin on Monday rejected Iran's offer to mediate a solution to the crisis in his war-torn country, insisting that Tehran-backed rebels surrender.

"Any mediation effort coming from Iran is unacceptable because Iran is involved in the Yemen issue," Yassin said on the sidelines of an Arab-Turkish economic meeting in Kuwait City.

"Iran has become a major part of the Yemeni crisis and those who are a party to the crisis... cannot become mediators," he said.

Iran has been backing the Shia Houthi rebels who along with forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have taken control of most of Yemen, prompting air strikes from a Saudi-led coalition to support the government.

Yassin said thousands of anti-government fighters had been killed since the start of the air strikes on March 26.

The Saudi-led air campaign was launched following a plea from President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after rebels closed in on his refuge in the southern city of Aden. He has since fled to Riyadh.

The minister said Yemen's exiled government will not accept negotiations unless the Houthis and pro-Saleh forces lay down arms.

"The Houthis and Saleh forces must withdraw from all cities and villages of Yemen, including Sanaa and Aden, return to (their northern stronghold of) Saada as civilians, and lay down their arms," Yassin said.

"After that we can talk about dialogue and a political solution. But now there is no room for negotiations," he said.

Yassin said that Arab and other countries will take part in a meeting to study plans for the reconstruction of Yemen after the war.

"There is a project we are studying with Gulf countries, an 'Arab Marshall plan' for reconstruction in Yemen," he said, referring to the US programme that helped rebuild Europe after World War II.

He provided no date for the meeting.

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