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Yemen's President Blames US, Israel for Arab Unrest


President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks during a media conference in Sanaa, Yemen (File Photo - February 21, 2011)

President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks during a media conference in Sanaa, Yemen (File Photo - February 21, 2011)

Tens of thousands of Yemeni opposition activists have rallied in Sana'a to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who accused his ally the United States for the first time of fueling daily protests against him.

Speaking Tuesday, Saleh accused the United States and Israel of working together to cause uprisings in Yemen and other parts of the Arab world, saying the alleged plot is orchestrated in Tel Aviv under U.S. supervision.

Saleh has cooperated with Washington in recent years in fighting al-Qaida militants who have used lawless parts of his impoverished nation to plot attacks against the United States and its allies. He has been in power since 1978 and refuses to step down before his presidential term ends in 2013.

Shortly after the president's comments, opposition activists gathered in a square near Sana'a University, chanting anti-Saleh slogans and protesting the killing of at least 24 people by Saleh loyalists since anti-government protests erupted in the country last month. Most of the killings happened in the southern city of Aden.

Saleh has offered to hold a dialogue with opposition parties on forming a national unity government, but the parties rejected the idea Monday and agreed to join the mostly student-led protests in Sana'a and elsewhere.

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