x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

EU envoy extends visit to Yemen to try to end standoff

Jamal bin Omar, who was expected to leave today after warning on Monday that Yemen is facing collapse and poses a serious threat to the region and the rest of the world, has extended his visit until the end of the month.

SANAA // A United Nations envoy to Yemen has extended his week-long visit to continue talks with parties seeking to end the prolonged political standoff between the country's ruling party and the opposition.

Jamal bin Omar, who arrived on July 20, was expected to leave today after warning on Monday that Yemen is facing collapse and poses a serious threat to the region and the rest of the world. His visit has been extended until the end of the month.

"Yemen is suffering from the collapse of the state. There are regions, with acknowledgement of the state officials, [that are] out of control. This is a serious situation," Mr bin Omar told reporters on Monday.

He said both the ruling party and the opposition coalition have laid down several conditions to resume "conciliation dialogue" but did not provide any details.

"Discussions are under way and there is hope that we will find a solution to this crisis," he said.

Opposition officials said they met the UN envoy on Saturday to tell him they will refuse all talks until power is transferred to Vice President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi. However, the ruling party officials said any power transfer from President Ali Abdullah Saleh must be done through an election.

In Brussels yesterday, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said Yemen must launch a "credible" transition plan and all sides in the political crisis should reject violence.

Speaking after talks with Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr Al Kurbi, Lady Ashton urged the government to work with all parties to "immediately take forward" a political transition after six months of anti-government protests.

"Individual and party differences must be set aside in favour of the broader interests of the Yemeni nation," she said.

She said the Gulf Cooperation Council plan which calls for President Saleh to cede power within 30 days in return for immunity from prosecution, paving the way for elections, was still the key point of reference for transition.

malqadhi@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting from Agence France-Presse