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CNN: US, UK and European envoys trapped in Yemen embassy


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Saleh just stepped up his game from delaying tactics, pretending to go after Al Queda, and murdering his people to taking international diplomats hostage.


(CNN) -- The American, British and European Union ambassadors to Yemen are trapped in an embassy surrounded by gunmen angry about efforts by Arab mediators to ease President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power, the American envoy told CNN.

U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein said the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates are also being prevented from leaving the UAE embassy.

Feierstein has contacted his superiors to say he is fine, a State Department official told CNN. The United Kingdom, European Union and Arab nations did not immediately confirm that their envoys were trapped.

The U.S. official believes the Yemeni government is behind the demonstration in Sanaa, the source said, declining to be named speaking about a sensitive ongoing situation.

Security forces were seen near the embassy but did not try to disperse the protesters, several dozen of who had machine guns,eyewitnesses said. Many more had pistols or batons, they said.

---------- Post added May-22nd-2011 at 12:06 PM ----------


Armed supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh have surrounded an embassy hosting ambassadors from Gulf and western nations, in protest over the scheduled signing of a deal to force the Yemeni leader out of office.

A diplomat told the AFP news agency on Sunday that gunman had surrounded the Emirati embassy where the head of the GCC, Abdullatif al-Zayani, and ambassadors from Britain, the EU and the US were gathered.

"Everybody is worried. We can't leave the embassy," a Saudi diplomat told the Associated Press.

Saleh was expected to sign the deal, brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), later on Sunday after opposition leaders signed on Saturday.

But Saleh's party said earlier that he would not sign a proposed deal to hand over power "behind closed doors", and instead wanted a public event held for all to attend, including opposition leaders.

The statement, issued by the ruling General People's Congress (GPC) early on Sunday, is the latest in a series of mixed signals from Yemen's embattled president.

Saleh has backed away from signing the deal at least twice before, adding to the opposition's deep mistrust of a leader known for adept political manoeuvring that has kept him in power for decades.

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Yemen's president has laid down new conditions for signing a power transition deal, thwarting Gulf efforts to bring an end to a months-old political crisis in the country.

A Gulf mediator left Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, on Sunday, having failed to secure Ali Abdullah Saleh's signature on the deal, according to a report on the AFP news agency.

Abdullatif al-Zayani, the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), "left without getting the signature of the president," Tareq al-Shami, the spokesman of Yemen's ruling General People's Congress, was quoted as saying.

European, US and Arab ambassadors, who were pressing Saleh to sign the accord, were trapped for hours on Sunday in an embassy surrounded by armed pro-government supporters.

Eventually, Yemeni army helicopters ferried the diplomats out to the palace.

Earlier Saleh said he would refuse to sign the deal, which would see him step down in 30 days, unless opposition leaders were present at the signing.

State television showed ruling party leaders signing the pact at the palace as Saleh and the US ambassador stood behind them, but Saleh did not sign the document.

Yemen's opposition coalition signed the deal on Saturday, based on what it said were guarantees that the president would sign on Sunday.

---------- Post added May-22nd-2011 at 02:32 PM ----------


Opposition officials rejected Saleh's proposal that they sign the agreement again on Sunday after putting their names on it Saturday.

"This is Saleh. His words are never trusted. No agreement is respected by him," said Mohammed Qahtan, a spokesman for the opposition movement JMP.

Tribal leaders, meanwhile, put armed gunmen on main roads in anticipation of violence.

"Yemen is lawless today and our tribes are here to ensure that safety prevails in all circumstances," said Shaef Ali Arhabi, a tribal leader from Arhab region. Arhabi said he supports the opposition, but pro-Saleh tribesman are on the streets as well.

An opposition youth leader accused Saleh of trying to weaken the JMP by making it "chase him from place to place" and predicted he would not sign in the end.

"The youth will not care if any signing takes place. Our demands are clear and Saleh will stand trial for all his crimes," activist Tawakkol Karman said.

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