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Arab League Summit Focuses on Yemen

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi attends the Arab League summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, March 28, 2015.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi attends the Arab League summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, March 28, 2015.

Arab leaders met for the 26th biannual Arab League summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday, amid intense discussion of the ongoing Saudi-led military operation in Yemen.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi opened the summit with a salute to the Arab nation before giving an assessment of the more pressing threats and concerns to the prestigious conclave of fellow Arab leaders.

Sissi stressed that terrorism was threatening many Arab governments and that the perpetrators of terrorism were exploiting religion to attain their goals. He spoke of resolving the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Libya and defended the joint military operation in Yemen.

He said that attempts to resume dialogue in Yemen failed along with appeals to prevent an armed conflict, so it was inevitable that the Arabs would act decisively, with Egypt joining the alliance of Arab and Gulf states to protect the unity of Yemen.

Saudi King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz, whose country is leading the operation in Yemen, said the show of force would continue until the aggression against the legitimate government ceased.

King Salman said Riyadh opens its doors to all Yemeni leaders to resume their dialogue under the Gulf Cooperation Council, supporting the legitimate government against those who have usurped power. He added that Yemen must not threaten the security of its neighbors.

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled the southern Yemeni city of Aden last week amid attacks by Houthi rebel fighters and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Hadi said the military operation would continue until the Houthis and their allies surrendered and withdrew from all territory they seized and pulled out of government institutions and military bases.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who also addressed the summit, said, "I have repeatedly condemned the attempts by the Houthis and former President Saleh to undermine political agreements by military force. I take note that military action has been undertaken at the request of Yemen's sovereign and legitimate leader President Hadi."

The U.N. leader stressed the only solution to the Yemeni conflict was through negotiations being conducted by U.N. special envoy Jamal Benomar and endorsed by the Security Council.

Arab coalition aircraft continued to attack military bases and arms depots outside the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, and near Aden. Dozens have been killed since the campaign began Wednesday.