Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Abu Dhabi meeting still finding out exit plan for Saleh with EU officials

Al Qaeda of Yemen and its two leaders  blacklisted by UN  
Source: GulfNews, 20/04/2011,  By Samir Salama

Abu Dhabi: Amid concerns over the political unrest sweeping across the Arab world, GCC foreign ministers and their EU counterparts will hold talks on the Yemen crisis in Abu Dhabi Wednesday.

The agenda of the meeting covers a host of political issues of mutual interest, the most important of these are the Middle East peace process and latest events in the Arab World.

In their 21st joint council meeting, the ministers will share views on a number of international files concerning human rights, terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as trade, economy, investment and energy.

Observers are concerned about the failure of the GCC initiative in finding an acceptable way out of the Yemen crisis due to a split in the opposition.

Talks Tuesday night between GCC foreign ministers and a Yemeni delegation from the ruling party, led by Speaker Dr Abdul Karim Al Eriani, ended without an agreed exit plan for Saleh.

Dr Ahmad Obaid Bin Dagher, assistant secretary-general of the ruling General People's Congress, said attempts to bring about a resolution were undermined by the opposition's rejection of early elections and dialogue while seeking power.

The Gulf plan asks Saleh to cede power to his deputy and establish a national unity government that would set up a constitution and organise elections. But it did not specify a timeframe for transfer of power and included immunity for the Yemeni President and his family from prosecution on any criminal charges - terms opposition leaders rejected.

The EU wants to involve in more strategic dialogue with the GCC states and understand their viewpoint on current events in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, said Luigi Narbone, Ambassador of the European Union in Riyadh, after talks on Sunday between the European Union's foreign policy chief Baroness Catherine Ashton and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal.

Saleh, who has accepted Gulf mediation, has warned of civil war if he is forced to step down.

Al Qaida wing blacklisted

The GCC-EU meeting is being held as a UN Security Council sanctions committee Tuesday added Al Qaida's Yemen-based wing and two of its leaders to a UN blacklist, which US envoy Susan Rice said would help efforts to weaken the group.

Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its two leaders, Nasser Al Wahayshi and Qasim Al Raymi, who were among 23 militants who escaped from a Sana'a jail in 2006, now face mandatory global asset freezes and travel bans, she said.

"Today's actions strengthen international efforts to degrade the capabilities of AQAP," said Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations.

More than 125 people, including 26 children, are estimated to have been killed since the Yemen protests began in mid-February.

Death toll

The toll of Yemeni anti-regime protesters killed as police dispersed a demonstration in Sana'a on Tuesday has risen to five, while 60 people were wounded, a medic said.

"The final toll is five dead, while 60 others received wounds of gunshots and batons, and 23 of them are in critical condition," said a medic at a makeshift hospital at a Sana'a sit-in protest.

The overall number of people killed in Yemeni demonstrations on Tuesday now stands at six, after a passer-by was shot dead in the city of Taiz as police opened fire at protesters demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh

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