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Yemeni president offers talks with al-Qaida

Sanaa , Wed, 26 Sep 2012 ANI

Sanaa, Sept. 26 (Xinhua-ANI): Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has offered to hold talks with the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida if they were to give up violence.

The Yemeni president made the offer in a speech aired late Tuesday, one day after the terrorists bombed Yemen's gas and oil pipelines.

"Today there are mediators who are pushing us to start opening talks with al-Qaida or Ansar al-Sharia," Hadi said during the speech aired by the state television on the eve of the 50th anniversary for the Republic of Yemen's establishment.

Hadi, who replaced former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in February, is in the United States on his first tour to Western powers to drum up foreign aid to help his country out of economic and security crisis.

The speech came few hours after Hadi met with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to discuss the latest security situation in the unrest-ridden country.

Hadi's move came one day after al-Qaida militants once again blew up the main gas and oil pipelines in the southeastern province of Shabwa, forcing floods from the central fields to the maritime terminals on the Gulf of Aden to be stopped.

"I say, despite bloodshed (by al-Qaida) against the citizens, destroying their homes and displacing them, it is still possible that we are willing to open a dialogue with the al-Qaida network on condition of that they should surrender their arms, show repentance of extremist thoughts and abandon sheltering non-Yemeni elements," Hadi said, referring to hundreds of Saudi nationals who sneaked into Yemen and joined the Yemeni-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Hadi did not name the mediators, nor reveal further details.

The AQAP, also known locally as Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), had exploited Yemen's yearlong security vacuum during protests against the long-time ruler Saleh and controlled several southern cities for more than a year before they were driven out by a U.S.-backed offensive in June.

Washington is helping Yemeni government forces fight the AQAP, escalating drone strikes that killed dozens of its members, as the impoverished country is still in the process of a political transition.

However, the militants have since been targeting the gas and oil pipelines in retaliation, causing the Yemeni government and its international oil partners losses of billions of U.S. dollars.

On Sept. 10, the Yemeni defense ministry announced the killing of the AQAP's second-in-command Saeed Ali al-Shihri in a drone strike on a remote area in the southeast of the country.

AQAP has yet to confirm the death of Saudi fugitive al-Shihri. (Xinhua-ANI)

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