Yemen

Yemen willing to agree truce with rebels - Saba

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SANAA, June 14 (Reuters) - Yemen will stop military operations against Shi'ite rebels fighting government forces in the north if they lay down their arms, the state news agency Saba reported on Thursday.

"Informed sources said that the military operations would be suspended immediately if Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, his brothers, and those with them ended the state of rebellion and sabotage," said Saba, a government mouthpiece.

The rebels oppose Yemen's close alliance with the United States and officials say the group wants to instal a clerical regime like the one overthrown in 1962.

Saba said the rebels should surrender their "medium weapons" -- a reference to firearms larger than an assault rifle -- "so that they can return to their villages to live as good citizens".

The rebels should "abide by the republican system, the constitution and the law," Saba added. It was not clear if this meant Sanaa was offering the rebels a formal amnesty.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have fled their homes since the clashes between government security forces and the rebels began in January.

Saba said the state would carry out reconstruction projects after a ceasefire.

Earlier this month a Yemeni defence ministry Web site said government forces were close to controlling areas in the north after taking over some rebel positions.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, joined the U.S.-led war on terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. cities. The rebels are not linked to al Qaeda.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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