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UN Calls for Restraint in Yemen Following Clashes

Women hold a banner during an anti-government rally to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh at Sana'a University, April 19, 2011

The U.N. Security Council has met for the first time to discuss the escalating crisis in Yemen, hours after security forces in the Gulf Arab state fired on anti-government protesters, killing three and wounding several others in two major cities.

The U.N.'s most powerful body failed to agree on a statement proposed by Lebanon and Germany calling on the parties in Yemen to "exercise restraint and enter a dialogue." The document also expressed support for mediation efforts carried out by the Gulf Cooperation Council.

U.N. officials, speaking privately, said Russia and China prevented the Council from publicly endorsing the draft statement.

After the talks, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said many delegations called for an end to the violence and a "swift, credible transition" of power. Yemen's opposition says nothing short of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's immediate departure would end the unrest.

Earlier Tuesday, Gulf Cooperation Council mediators met with a Yemeni government delegation in the United Arab Emirates to discuss an initiative to end the standoff between protesters and authorities. A brief statement said the talks were constructive.

Earlier, witnesses in the city of Taiz said police fatally shot one man during protests demanding Mr. Saleh's ouster. Medics said two men were killed and dozens wounded during a similar crackdown in the capital, Sana'a.

Anti-government demonstrators have been calling for an end to Mr. Saleh's 32-year rule during two months of protests. The Yemeni president has indicated he is willing to step down, but in an orderly transition.

Violence between pro-Saleh forces and opposition activists has killed more than 120 people since protests began in late January.

On Monday, at least 80 people were wounded in the Red Sea port of al-Hudaydah when security forces fired on protesters demanding Mr. Saleh's ouster. Residents say plainclothed police fired live ammunition, while other security officials used clubs and tear gas against demonstrators.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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