Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi called on Tuesday for the UN-brokered reconciliation talks to be moved to neighboring Saudi Arabia if an agreement cannot be reached on a venue inside Yemen.
The Western-backed president, who withdrew a January resignation offer after his escape saying it had been made under duress, had proposed that the talks resume in Aden or in Yemen's third city Taez, which is also outside the control of the Houthis.
"As Aden and Taez are not accepted by some, I call for shifting the talks to the headquarters of the GCC in Riyadh," Hadi told tribal chiefs.
He also called for the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which groups impoverished Yemen's oil-rich neighbors, to sponsor the talks, an aide said.
The Houthis, who control much of northern Yemen and have set up their own government institutions in the capital, have opposed any change of venue for the UN-brokered talks.
The General People's Congress party of ousted dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is widely accused of backing the militia, has warned that it will boycott any talks held outside Sanaa.
It is by no means clear that Riyadh will be any more acceptable as a venue to the Houthis or their supporters.
The GCC has thrown its support behind Hadi and several member states have moved their embassies to Aden since his escape.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday deadly confrontations of warring factions continued in different parts of the country and left at least 16 dead.
At least 12 Houthi militants have been killed in an attack by al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in the central Yemeni province of al-Bayda, tribal sources said.
"Militants affiliated with Ansar al-Sharia group attacked several Houthi sites late Monday in Manaseh region in al-Bayda, killing 12 Houthi militants," one of the sources told Anadolu news agency, requesting anonymity.
Clashes erupted between the two sides following the attack, but it is yet unclear whether there were any casualties, the sources said.
Bayda has recently been the scene of numerous confrontations between al-Qaeda militants and armed tribesmen on one side and members of the Houthi militant group on the other.
On Tuesday in the Hadramawt province, four people, including three soldiers, were killed when their patrol struck a roadside bomb, the Defense Ministry said.
A roadside bomb went off as the army patrol passed through the al-Qatn region, killing three soldiers and a civilian and injuring several others, the ministry said in a statement.
Yemen has fallen into turmoil since a 2012 uprising forced out autocratic president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been in power for 33 years, after a year of unrest. Following Saleh’s overthrow, the Houthis, al-Qaeda, separatists from the former independent South Yemen, and tribesmen have been fighting each other to gain power and territory in the fragile state.
The latest crisis in the Arab world's poorest country threatens to allow al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to expand across the peninsula.The turmoil has also cast doubt over the future of a key partnership for Washington in the fight against AQAP.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)
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