Yemen ex-President Saleh offers talks to Saudi-led coalition

Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaking at a rally held to mark the 35th anniversary of the establishment of his General People's Congress party in Sanaa, 24 August 2017

The former president of Yemen has suggested that he is open to talking to the Saudi-led coalition that his forces have been fighting for years.

Ali Abdullah Saleh said on TV that he would be ready to “turn the page” if the coalition lifted a blockade on northern Yemen and halted its attacks.

The offer came as clashes worsened between Mr Saleh’s forces and their former allies, the Houthis.

The rift could have significant implications for Yemen’s civil war.

The two groups had been fighting the government of current President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi together for nearly three years.

Fighting began on Wednesday when Mr Saleh’s supporters accused Houthi rebels of breaking into the city’s main mosque complex.

There are reports of more fighting on the streets of the capital, Sanaa

Explosions and gunfire are concentrated in the southern suburbs of the city, where relatives of Mr Saleh live.

Image caption Houthi rebels operated checkpoints in Sanaa as the clashes between them and Saleh forces continued

“I call on our brothers in neighbouring countries… to stop their aggression and lift the blockade… and we will turn the page,” Mr Saleh said in a TV address.

He condemned the Houthis – who are backed by Iran but have been his allies against the internationally-recognised government for years – for a “blatant assault” on members of his party, the General People’s Congress.

More than 8,670 people have been killed and 49,960 injured since a Saudi-led coalition backing Mr Hadi intervened in the conflict in 2015, according to the UN.

The conflict and a blockade by the coalition has also left 20.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world’s largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have killed 2,211 people since April.