Security Council Team in Yemen to Push Reconciliation

A U.N. Security Council delegation on Sunday began a brief visit to Yemen in a clear boost to President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi aimed at helping to iron out problems hampering national reconciliation talks.

The delegation, which includes the head and members of the top body as well as United Nations special envoy Jamal Benomar, went straight into a meeting with Hadi, state television said.

It called the visit "international support for Yemen to push political reconciliation as per the Gulf initiative" which eased former president Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office and brought an end to a year of protests.

The U.N. trip comes as Sanaa struggles to organize a national dialogue conference on a new constitution and an electoral law under the deal that ended Saleh's three decades in power.

The conference, originally set for mid-November, has been repeatedly delayed because some factions of the Southern Movement, which has campaigned for autonomy or secession for the formerly independent south, have refused to join the talks.

Benomar said the visit "reflects the U.N. Security Council's interest in pushing the reconciliation and removing obstacles that are hindering the implementation of the points of the Gulf initiative."

He told state television that the "process is difficult," and urged all Yemeni parties to "realize that there is a historic opportunity and join the national dialogue without preconditions, to solve all Yemeni issues, including the question of the south."

After North and South Yemen unified, the south broke away in 1994, sparking a short-lived civil war that ended with the region being overrun by northern troops.

The transition deal also stipulates restructuring the army and integrating military and security forces under a single command, a task that remains difficult with Saleh's sons and relatives still occupying senior security posts.

The United Nations made an urgent call in December for Yemeni political parties to begin the dialogue, warning that the transition was under threat.

Source: Agence France Presse

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