Yemen's Saleh says open to talks with Saudi-led coalition

Saudi-coalition strikes Yemen

The two groups have been fighting the government of current President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who is backed by the Saudi-led coalition, for almost three years.

"Our country is under aggression and the Houthis are the cause of this aggression due to their practices", he said.

"We vow to our brothers and neighbors that, after a ceasefire is in place and the blockade is lifted. we will hold dialogue directly through the legitimate authority represented by our parliament".

Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh - whose supporters are now in a shaky alliance with the Houthi rebels in the fight against the Saudi-led coalition - tossed an olive branch on Saturday to Riyadh, saying he is open to talks with the coalition and ready to "turn the page".

The missile attacks, which could further escalate the coalition's military campaign, underscore how the raging Yemen conflict is increasingly spilling across the border, threatening Saudi towns and villages.

"The decision of Popular General Congress to take initiative and align itself with its people will free Yemen from loyal militias to Iran", he said in a statement released by Saudi SPA Agency, in reference to Saleh's party.

In a statement carried by the Saudi-owned Al-Hadath channel, the coalition said it was "confident of the will of the leaders and sons" of Saleh's GPC party to return to Arab fold.

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For coalition, former president betrayed Arabs by joining Huthi, a militia that emerged at end of last century to improve living conditions of ZaydĂ­ minority (a branch of Shi'a Islam that follows one-third of Yemenis) and that Saudi Arabia considers an Inst Rumeno of his rival Iran.

"It is not unusual or surprising that Saleh turns his back on a partnership he never believed in", the group's political bureau said in a statement.

Mr Saleh and his supporters formed an alliance with the Shiite Houthis in 2014. There has been no official word on casualties but the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that dozens were killed and hundreds were wounded in the fighting. Both sides have reported that at least 16 people were killed in the fighting, which began on Wednesday when armed Houthi fighters entered the main mosque complex, firing RPGs and grenades.

Earlier, Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party, accused the Houthis of failing to honor the truce and said in a statement on its website that the Houthis bear responsibility for dragging the country into a civil war.

The head of the Houthi's Ansarullah group, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, has described Saleh's change of heart as "sedition", and appealed to him to show more wisdom and maturity.

Yemen's civil war has killed more than 10,000 people since 2015, displaced more than two million people, caused a cholera outbreak infecting almost one million people and put the country on the brink of starvation.

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