Yemen's exiled president said his government will not negotiate with Iran-backed rebels at UN-sponsored peace talks due to open in Switzerland this weekend, in comments broadcast on Monday.
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi said the sole item for discussion would be the implementation of a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council in April demanding the rebels' withdrawal from the swathes of the country they have seized. "There will be no negotiations," Hadi told Al-Arabiya television.
"It will be just a discussion about how to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2216. We will have a consultation." Asked if his government's delegation would discuss reconciliation with the rebel negotiating team, Hadi said: "Not at all."
Announcing the talks on Saturday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon asked all sides to enter the talks without preconditions.Ban "reiterates his urgent call on all Yemeni parties to engage in these consultations in good faith and without preconditions in the interest of all Yemeni people," his spokesman said.
He said the talks were aimed at securing a ceasefire, agreeing on a withdrawal plan for the Huthi rebels and stepping up deliveries of humanitarian aid. After overrunning the capital Sanaa last September, the Huthis seized much of the country, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to launch a bombing campaign against them on March 26. Hadi fled to Riyadh.
In the interview, Hadi again hit out at Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, charging that its meddling in his country's affairs was "more dangerous than Al-Qaeda." "Al-Qaeda could be eliminated, but here we have a systematically politicised action," he said.Iran has always denied supporting the rebels.