Yemen's Saleh says ready to commit to UN peace terms

DUBAI: Oct 12 Yemen's former president has vowed to honour a peace plan brokered by the United Nations in talks in Oman and to quit Yemeni cities if a Saudi-led Arab alliance stopped air strikes on the country.

Ali Abdullah Saleh also told the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen television in an interview broadcast on Monday that he was ready to quit his position as head of the country's largest party, the General People's Congress (GPC), to facilitate an end to fighting that had killed more than 5,000 people.

Saleh, who enjoys the loyalty of the armed forces despite having stepped down from office nearly four years ago after months of protests, had joined forces with the Iran-backed Houthis in fighting a Saudi-led alliance trying to shore up President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The Houthis and Saleh's GPC last week sent letters to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon declaring their acceptance of the peace plan, which includes a Security Council resolution adopted in April calling on the Houthis to quit cities captured since September last year.

But a spokesman for Hadi dismissed those acceptances as a "manoeuvre" and demanded that the Iran-backed group hand back territory it has seized since last year.

In Monday's interview, Saleh said: "We had reached a 10-point agreement with the U.N. envoy in Muscat, and we later reached (an agreement) of seven points which we and Ansarullah (Houthis) accepted, but until now the other side had not because they only want a dialogue through the gun."

"This seven-point agreement needs a mechanism for each point. Who will prepare this mechanism? The United Nations," he added.

Saleh said he was willing to step down as head of the GPC within 21 days in exchange for ending the attacks on Yemen and lifting a blockade on the entry of supplies to the country.

The Saudi-led alliance regards the Houthis as proxies for non-Arab Iran, a main regional rival for Saudi Arabia.

Asked about allegations that Iran was providing advisors and support for the Houthis, Saleh said: "Perhaps there are scholarships from Iran and possibly financial aid, but there is not a single Iranian weapon or advisor in Yemen."