Ex-Yemen leader's party says it welcomes cease-fire
SANAA, Yemen (AP) The political party of Yemen's former longtime autocrat said Sunday that it welcomes a U.N. resolution calling for a cease-fire in the country, urging all involved in the conflict, including a Saudi-led Arab coalition, to observe it.
In a statement issued Sunday on its website, Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress said that it would "respond positively" to the U.N. Security Council resolution issued last week. Pro-Saleh forces have been fighting alongside the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who have seized the capital, Sanaa, and other cities.
"(The party) welcomes the U.N. Secretary-General's call to for a cease-fire from all sides and a return to dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations," it said. It added that it urged parties "inside and outside" the country to respond to the call.
The resolution demands that all Yemeni parties, especially the Houthis, end violence and return swiftly to U.N.-led peace talks aimed at a political transition. It makes no mention of the Saudi-led airstrikes targeting the rebels and pro-Saleh forces.
The combat intensified in late March when the Saudi-led coalition of majority Sunni countries began launching airstrikes against the rebels, who are battling forces loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
On Sunday, fighting and Saudi-led airstrikes targeting Shiite rebels struck across Yemen, officials said, as the United Nations said that Saudi Arabia had agreed to completely fund a $273.7 million appeal for emergency humanitarian aid to the county.
In the southern port city of Aden, Yemen's second largest, pro-Hadi forces regained control Sunday of part of the coastline that had been held by forces loyal to rebel leader Abdul-Malek al-Houthi and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the security officials said. The gained positions allow them to attack the rebel-held airport and cut off supplies to anti-Hadi forces, they said.
Rebel forces also made another push to take the Dar Saad area, just north of Aden, but failed, the officials added, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.
Later in the day, pro-rebel television station al-Masirah said that leader al-Houthi would speak Sunday night, which would be his first comments since the airstrikes began.
Meanwhile in Amman, the United Nations said Saudi Arabia had agreed to fund completely a $273.7 million appeal for emergency aid to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe inside Yemen.
The U.N issued the urgent appeal last week, saying it was needed to save lives and protect some 7.5 million people affected by the conflict and in dire need of medical supplies, safe drinking water, food assistance, emergency shelter and logistical support.
Purnima Kahsyap, humanitarian coordinator for the U.N. aid effort in Yemen, said that the U.N. was thankful to Saudi Arabia for covering the entire appeal cost, but urged all other partners to continue to provide assistance.
A Saudi-led coalition launched an air offensive against Yemen's Shiite rebels on March 26.
Associated Press writer Sam McNeil in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.