Former Yemen rebel ally Saleh calls for talks with Saudi Arabia

Former Yemen rebel ally Saleh calls for talks with Saudi Arabia

Saleh's supporters managed on Saturday to seize control of several embassies and government buildings from the Houthis.

Saleh's statements were welcomed by the Saudi coalition, which said it was "confident of the will of the leaders and sons" of Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party to return to the Arab fold.

Saudi Arabia has been locked in a fight with the Houthi rebels since it joined the Yemen war in 2015. The civilian suffering was exacerbated by the Saudi naval and air blockade of Yemen, human rights groups say.

"I call on our brothers in neighbouring countries ... to stop their aggression and lift the blockade ... and we will turn the page", the former president said in a televised speech.

More than 8,670 people have been killed and 49,960 injured since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemen conflict, according to the UN.

Citing the restricted access to his country, Saleh said Saturday in a televised address on Yemen Today TV that he is open to talks with the Saudi-led coalition.

The Houthis are backed by Iran but have been Mr Saleh's allies against the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi since 2014.

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"Saleh's speech is a coup against our alliance and partnership. and exposed the deception of those who claim to stand against aggression", a Houthi spokesman said in a statement carried by the rebels' al-Masirah TV.

But Houthi rebels, his allies until this week, accused him of a "coup".

The statement also hailed the serious stance taken to face the Houthi militias, calling on all the Yemeni people in the capital Sanaa and the rest of the provinces to take up a popular uprising against the Iranian-backed Houthi militias.

For his part, Houthi leader Abdel Malek al-Houthi called on Saleh to end what he called "the sectarian strife" that he has instigated, and threatened to take action against his supporters militarily if he does not.

The coalition accuses Iran of trying to expand its influence into Arab countries, including Yemen by aligning themselves with the Houthis and Mr Saleh.

In a televised speech on December 2, Saleh called on the Saudi-led coalition to pave the way for an end to nearly three years of war by stopping attacks and lifting a siege on the country.

The conflict and a blockade by the coalition has also left more than 20 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world's largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have killed 2,211 people since April.

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