UN council members call for restraint in Yemen

Reuters , Wednesday 20 Apr 2011

Members of the U.N. Security Council called for restraint and political dialogue in Yemen as the 15-nation body discussed the violence there for the first time on Tuesday

A U.N. Security Council closed-door meeting, requested by Germany, failed to agree on a public statement on Yemen, where anti-government protests are in their third month, because some envoys wanted to consult their capitals, diplomats said.

The meeting came as Yemeni police opened fire on protesters in two cities, killing at least three people, as protesters tried to escalate their campaign to end President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule.

Gulf mediators, meanwhile, met with a Yemeni government delegation in Abu Dhabi to discuss a transfer of power in the poor Arab state. That meeting ended with a brief statement saying the talks had been constructive.

The Security Council meeting in New York was briefed by U.N. political chief Lynn Pascoe and Jamal Benomar, a senior U.N. official who recently visited Yemen as an envoy of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"We expressed concern about the situation in Yemen, which is deteriorating. We called for restraint and we appealed to the parties to enter into a dialogue," German Ambassador Peter Wittig told reporters after the meeting.

"Most of us in the council expressed explicitly support for the mediation efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council."

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told journalists that "many delegations, including our own, stressed the importance of an end to violence and a political process that results swiftly in a credible transition."

Germany and Lebanon urged the council to issue a statement, but some envoys disagreed, diplomats said. Asked who had done so, one Western diplomat said "the usual suspects" -- an apparent reference to Russia and China, often reluctant to take action that could be seen as intruding in a country's affairs.
A statement could be issued later this week when instructions are received from governments, diplomats said.

The protests in Yemen, inspired by uprisings that toppled authoritarian leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, have brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets almost daily to demand an end to endemic poverty and corruption. Scores of protesters have been killed.

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