GCC leaders hold talks with Yemeni opposition in Riyadh

Yemeni opposition leaders arrive in Riyadh for talks with GCC foreign ministers Foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a delegation of top opposition leaders from Yemen met here Sunday night to discuss ways and means to defuse the worsening political crisis in Yemen.
In the meeting, the GCC and Yemeni leaders discussed a proposal for an early departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to secure peace and an end to political unrest in the country. They also reviewed a proposal that calls for a timetable for the president to leave office.
\”The meeting discussed all related developments in Yemen within the framework of the agreement reached by GCC countries on April 10, when it was decided to involve all factions to find a solution to the political unrest,\” said a spokesman of the GCC General Secretariat in Riyadh after the talks. The Yemeni delegation held talks on all issues with the GCC ministers while seeking details of the plan for Saleh’s departure floated by GCC ministerial council earlier this month. The five-member opposition Common Forum delegation was led by Mohammed Salem Bassandaoua, former foreign minister. Other Yemeni opposition leaders present in the talks included Yasin Saeed Noman, secretary-general of Socialist Party of Yemen; Abdelwahab Al-Ansi, secretary-general of Reform Party; Sultan Al-Atwani, secretary-general of Al-Nasiri party and Hassan Zaid, chief of Al-Haq party. The Gulf foreign ministers met for the first time with Yemeni opposition members to defuse the crisis. The meeting coincides with the visit of European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who arrived in Riyadh on Sunday night for a two-day visit during which she is to meet Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and other senior Saudi officials. Ashton\’s first visit to Saudi Arabia comes as part of a regional tour that includes Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, where she is due to attend a joint meeting of EU foreign ministers and the GCC on April 20. This joint meeting will focus on all bilateral and regional issues including Yemen. Referring to Sunday\’s meeting, the spokesman said that GCC and Yemeni officials discussed the latest developments in Yemen. The meeting was chaired by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The GCC proposal calling for Saleh to hand over power to his vice president and form a unity government headed by the opposition was \”the basis of the talks\” on Sunday night, he added. There was also a proposal to discuss the US-set deadline for the president to step down. The plan entails Saleh handing over power to the vice president within 30 days, with the transfer occurring no more than a week after naming a new vice president. The offer guarantees Saleh will not be prosecuted. The GCC initiative also included the expulsion of the president’s son and head of security Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as head of the national security agency Col. Ammar Mohamed Abdullah Saleh and Col. Yehya Mohamed Abdullah Saleh, chief of staff of the central security agency

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