Yemen says 'ready' to ink Gulf-brokered deal
SANAA - Yemen's government raised possibilities Thursday that embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh is ready to ink a Gulf-brokered power transfer plan, as pressure mounted on him to quit amid raging violence.
"Yemen is ready to finish the signing of the Gulf initiative which was signed by the General People's Congress," a government spokesman told state news agency Saba.
Saleh has baulked the signing of a Gulf-sponsored deal under which he will leave office within 30 days in return for a promise of immunity from prosecution.
"The date for the signing will be set soon based on consultations and coordination between the Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation Council states," Saba said, quoting the unnamed government official.
The spokesman blamed violence ravaging the streets of the capital Sanaa as unrelated to the country's political crisis but said it came after "outlawed armed elements resorted to violence and chaos."
Deadly battles between opposition tribesmen and Saleh's troops have rocked Sanaa leaving more than 60 people dead since Tuesday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday Yemen's conflict will not end unless Saleh and his government make way for the opposition to begin a political transition.
Clinton repeated strong US backing for proposals by Yemen's wealthy Gulf Arab neighbors that would see Saleh leave office in return for a promise of immunity from prosecution.
"We cannot expect this conflict to end unless President Saleh and his government move out of the way to permit the opposition and civil society to begin a transition to political and economic reform," the chief US diplomat said.
Saleh has warned of a civil war as he refused to sign the plan aimed at ending bloodshed in the deeply tribal country.
Opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan said on Tuesday that attempts by Gulf monarchies to mediate in Yemen's crisis are "over."
"This agreement is terminated," Qahtan said 10 days after Saleh refused to sign the agreement proposed by the Gulf monarchies, despite it having being signed by his own party and the opposition.