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Yemeni President reaches out to rebels

Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi on Saturday called on rebels to give up fighting and negotiate peace as a four-year war drags on in the country.

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and Iran-linked Houthi rebels have been engaged in a power struggle since late 2014, resulting in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

The implementation of UN-brokered peace deal reached in December has since been in limbo.

“Hasn’t the time come to lay down arms and initiate peace? We stretch out our hands with peace to the Houthis,” Hadi said in the government-controlled city of Seiyoun in eastern Yemen.

He had arrived in the city earlier on Saturday from his self-exile in Saudi Arabia to attend the parliament’s first meeting since the Yemeni crisis erupted over four years ago.

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“The Yemeni legitimacy (his government) aims at achieving comprehensive peace,’’ Hadi told the parliamentary session.

Some 141 members of the 301-strong assembly attended Saturday’s meeting, and were seen to be determined at consolidating the Hadi government’s legitimacy disputed by rebels.

The assembly was elected in 2003, but its mandate has been extended several times due to election delays over instability in the country.

The Houthis have been since late 2014 in control of the capital Sana’a, home to several key state institutions.

Yemen’s feud has intensified since March 2015, when the Houthis advanced on the government’s temporary capital of Aden, prompting Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies to start an air campaign against the Shiite group.

The Saudis fear that the rebels will give Shiite Iran a strategic foothold on the Arabian Peninsula. (NAN)