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 Yemen says no dialogue with Shi'ite rebels

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The Sameer
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PostSubject: Yemen says no dialogue with Shi'ite rebels   Wed Mar 14, 2007 6:39 am

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070312/wl_nm/yemen_rebels_saleh_dc_1

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's president said on Monday there was no room for dialogue with Shi'ite rebels fighting government forces in the north and he urged them to surrender.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh's remarks came after rumors spread the rebels' leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, had proposed talks with the government to end fighting that has killed more than 350 rebels and soldiers this year.

"There is no chance for dialogue or mediation," the official Saba news agency quoted Saleh as saying in a telephone conference with government, army and tribal leaders in the northern province of Saada.

"They have no option but to surrender to the state; to drop their weapons and submit to law and order. They have no other option if they want to be safe and prevent bloodshed."

At least 250 rebels and 105 soldiers have been killed, according to estimates by government officials, in sporadic clashes in the mountainous area since the turn of the year.

A government Web site www.26sep.net said later on Monday that 11 "terrorists" were killed by government forces and 11 other rebels were arrested on Sunday as they were trying to sneak into the city of Saada to carry out sabotage operations.

The 22 men were dressed as women and carried explosive belts and other weapons, the site said.

Sunni Muslims make up most of Yemen's 19 million population while Shi'ite Muslims are a minority.

In 2006, Saleh ordered an amnesty freeing more than 600 Shi'ite Muslim rebels. But in January he ordered the army to crack down on Houthi and his followers after new attacks on government forces.

"What these terrorist elements want is to topple the republican system ... they falsely raise a deceptive slogan 'death to America, death to Israel'," Saleh said. "They are enemies of security, stability and the homeland."

Yemen, ancestral homeland of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, joined the U.S.-led war on terrorism after the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks in the United States. Houthi's supporters are not linked to al Qaeda.
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