Yemen rebel ally Saleh says open to talks with Saudis


Sanaa (AFP)

Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh said Saturday he was open to talks with the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels, as his alliance with the Huthi insurgents appeared to be crumbling.

"I call on our brothers in neighbouring countries ... to stop their aggression and lift the blockade ... and we will turn the page," the former president said in a televised speech.

"We vow to our brothers and neighbours that, after a ceasefire is in place and the blockade is lifted ... we will hold dialogue directly through the legitimate authority represented by our parliament."

The Saudi-led coalition, which has fought Saleh and the Iran-backed Huthi rebels since 2015, this month imposed a total blockade on the impoverished country after a rebel missile was shot down near Riyadh.

The capital has been shaken by escalating violence this week between supporters of Saleh and the Huthis, with dozens of fighters killed and injured and residents now fearing a new front in an already devastating war.