Saudi-UAE delegation in Aden to discuss STC’s pullout

Government source says delegation is in Aden to discuss issue of withdrawal of southern Security Belt forces from government camps, positions they seized last week.

Forces loyal to the STC seized the presidential palace in Aden

Saudi-led coalition urged Security Belt force to pull out from positions it captured

ADEN - A joint Saudi-Emirati military delegation arrived in Aden Thursday to discuss the pullout of UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces from positions they captured in Yemen's interim capital, government and STC sources said.

The delegation arrived in the city "to discuss the issue of the withdrawal of southern Security Belt forces from government camps and positions they seized last week," a source in the government of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi said.

A source from the STC confirmed their arrival, saying "we will hold talks with them," without providing further details.

Forces loyal to the STC, which seeks an independent South Yemen, seized the presidential palace in Aden on Saturday after clashes with forces loyal to Hadi left 40 people dead.

The fighting sparked tensions within a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that backs the government against northern-based Huthi rebels.

The clashes saw forces that back the STC take five barracks, the presidential palace and the prime minister's office.

The Saudi-led coalition condemned the takeover and urged the Security Belt force to pull out from positions it captured, calling for peace talks to resolve the standoff.

Yemen's government on Wednesday ruled out talks with the separatists until they withdraw from positions they seized in Aden.

The Yemeni embassy in Washington, quoting the foreign ministry, on Wednesday welcomed the Saudi initiative to address the "coup" in Aden.

But, it said in a tweet, separatists "must first commit to total withdrawal from areas forcibly seized by STC in past few days before start of any talks."

South Yemen was an independent country until it merged with the north in 1990.

Thousands of Yemeni demonstrators marched in Aden on Thursday in support of the STC and called for declaring South Yemen an independent state.

A similar Saudi-UAE military delegation visited Aden early last year when clashes erupted between Hadi loyalists and STC forces.