Officials: Saudi Arabia pushes for settlement in south Yemen

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Saudi Arabia is pushing for a settlement between the internationally recognized Yemeni government and southern separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates, Yemeni officials said Thursday.

Officials from Saudi Arabia and the UAE have met separately to agree on a draft agreement before presenting it to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the separatist Southern Transitional Council, which took control of Hadi’s interim capital of Aden, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

In a strongly worded statement, Saudi Arabia said Thursday it won’t accept any attempts to “create a new reality in Yemen, using force or threats.” It said that any threat to the stability of Yemen “amounts to a threat to the security and stability of the kingdom and the region.”

The statement also called for “immediate” negotiations between Hadi’s government and the STC.

Hadi’s government has said the separatists must withdraw from its buildings and military camps in Aden before engaging in talks with them.

Hadi also wants militias of the STC in the southern areas to report to his government, a condition rejected by the STC and the UAE, officials said.

Meanwhile on Thursday, thousands of separatist supporters rallied in support of the UAE in Aden, many of them waving colorful UAE flags.