Source: Gulf News, by Jumana Al Tamimi
The ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar to Yemen met with Yemeni opposition leaders on Wednesday to "hear what the Yemenis want", an opposition leader told Gulf News as tens of thousands of Yemenis continued to protest in the city of Taiz.
The envoys also met with President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Vice-President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi as US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday for talks with Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz on several topics, including the Yemen crisis and military ties.
The Gulf countries have invited the Yemen government and opposition for talks in Riyadh.
The official Yemeni news agency Saba said the meeting aims "to find solutions assisting Yemen to overcome its current crisis and maintain its security, stability and unity".
While Saleh renewed his welcome to the Gulf mediation effort, he said that "Yemen's stability is a part of the security and stability of the GCC states".
Meanwhile, Gates' third visit to the region within one month is expected to focus on Iran, according to US officials. Apart from Iran's controversial nuclear ambitions, there are concerns in Washington and several Arab capitals that Iran is seeking to exploit the political unrest in the Arab world.
"Iran will be a major focus" of Robert Gates' talks with King Abdullah, press reports quoted Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, as telling reporters on Gates' flight.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) criticised Iran's meddling in the region's affairs after Bahrain claimed Tehran was interfering in its internal issues and Kuwait accused several people of spying for Iran.
Iran has criticized the GCC position and called for Gulf forces to withdraw from Bahrain.
Gates is also expected to urge the Saudi leadership to buy an upgraded version of the Patriot anti-missile system and a more sophisticated US defense system called the Theater High-Altitude Area Defence system, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles of longer range, American officials noted.
Last year, Saudi Arabia inked a $60 billion deal to buy jets and helicopters.