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UN: Yemen Factions to Resume Talks Monday


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at a news conference in Riyadh, Feb. 8, 2015.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at a news conference in Riyadh, Feb. 8, 2015.

The United Nations says key political factions in Yemen, including a Shi'ite militia that seized control of the Sana'a government last week, have agreed to resume talks Monday aimed at resolving the political crisis.

U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar announced the new talks Sunday, two days after Houthi fighters dissolved parliament and created an interim government to fill the power vacuum left by the ouster of Western-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

In a statement on Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the talks and called on all sides to negotiate "in good faith and in a spirit of compromise."

Earlier Sunday, Ban met with Saudi King Salman and his top advisers in Riyadh to discuss the recent power-grab in neighboring Yemen by Houthi rebels.

As popular demonstrations mount against the Houthi rebel group across parts of Yemen, Ban is demanding recently resigned President Hadi be reinstated.

“There must be a restoration of the legitimacy of President Hadi's. We have to address this through all the Security Council and [Gulf Cooperation Council] Initiatives,” he said.

The former president and many of his top ministers remain under house arrest and Houthi militiamen occupy a number of government offices.

Ban denounced the Houthi's seizure of power, which culminated several days ago in the naming of a new interim parliament and five-man presidential council. He blasted the Houthis for creating a dangerous power vacuum in the country.

“The situation is very seriously deteriorating, with the Houthis taking power and making this government vacuum in power,” he said.

UN search for settlement

The U.N. secretary-general also called for the Houthis and all other Yemeni parties to cooperate with his special envoy Jamal Ben Omar to negotiate a political settlement to the country's political crisis.

Saudi editor and publisher Jamal Khashoggi told VOA that the U.N. and the international community are trying to pressure the Houthis into making an equitable agreement.

“I feel that there is plan being built up today, it is not final, but it constitutes the following: that Jamal Ben Omar will continue in Yemen to work out a solution between various parties and make sure that an open conflict does not start," Khashoggi told VOA.

"At the same time, Saudi Arabia, along with the GCC and Ban Ki-moon are literally saying that what happened in Yemen is unconstitutional and illegitimate,” he added.

Khashoggi added that the “Houthis have the upper hand,” but that a joint international and Gulf Cooperation Council position “will help Jamal Ben Omar in getting the Houthis to reach an agreement with the other Yemeni parties.”

The Saudi editor termed the negotiations a “process in the making.”

In addition to blasting the Houthis for Yemen's political crisis, Ban also blamed former President Ali Abdullah Saleh for playing a role in the current crisis.

Saleh stepped down in 2012 after months of mediation by the GCC.