Qatari mediators to resume Yemen reconciliation efforts

A Qatari mediation team in Yemen will resume on Thursday efforts to implement a reconciliation deal between authorities and Shiite rebels a week after the talks were suspended, a press report said.

The team is part of a Yemeni-Qatari committee monitoring a Qatari- mediated ceasefire agreed on in Doha last June which put an end to the deadly fighting that lasted for nearly three years between the Yemeni army and members of the outlawed Shiite "Believing Youth" rebel movement in Saada province, known as Houthis, the dpa reported.

Qatari Assistant Foreign Minister Saif Abu al-Eineen was scheduled to attend the resumed talks as the chief mediator, the 26 September weekly, an organ of the Yemeni army, reported.

The 11-member Qatari team left the restive Saada province in north-western Yemen last week after the talks reached a deadlock due to differences over the seventh term of the agreement as the Houthis insist on their refusal to vacate all the positions they hold, according to Abdu al-Janadi, a leading member of the committee.

Under the deal's seventh term, rebels should leave their locations in the mountains of Saada on the border with Saudi Arabia, while the government in turn would gradually release detained rebels. Some 347 rebel supporters were released last February.

The rebels' refusal to hand over their strategic mountainous positions led to reluctance by authorities to release more detainees, al-Janadi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa last week.

The agreement also provides that the rebel leader Abdul-Malik al- Houthi and his two brothers, Yahay and Abdul-Kareem, would be allowed to live in exile in Qatar.

Tens of thousands of army troops were deployed in Saada to crush a revolt that originally began after Shiite cleric Hussein al-Houthi, the elder brother of Abdul-Malik, established the movement in March 2004. Hussein was killed by the army in September the same year.

Waves of violent clashes since mid-2004 have left hundreds of government troops and rebels dead, and displaced thousands of civilians from Saada.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has repeatedly accused the Houthis of trying to topple the republican regime and re-establish the rule of the Zaidi Imamate, a royal regime that was overthrown by a revolution in 1962.

Followers of al-Houthi belong mostly to the Zaidi sect of Islam, which is regarded as a moderate sect.

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