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World News

Yemen southern separatists pull out of Riyadh agreement talks

CAIRO (Reuters) - Yemen’s southern separatists have suspended their participation in consultations on a power-sharing deal for the south, known as the “Riyadh agreement”, a Southern Transitional Council (STC) statement said on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia has been trying to implement the deal, first proposed in November, to end a conflict in the south between the separatists and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.

STC’s vice-president Hani Ben Brik said on twitter that the suspension of negotiations by the STC was in protest at “irresponsible behaviour by parties” towards the Riyadh agreement and was necessary to push for full commitment to the agreement.

The STC gave several reasons for withdrawing, including the collapse of public services in the south and military escalation by government forces in Abyan province.

“We renew our full commitment to what was agreed upon without any violations,” he said.

The government and the separatist STC, which is backed by the United Arab Emirates, are the main Yemeni forces in a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi movement which drove the government from Sanaa, the capital, five years ago.

The Yemeni allies have been in a standoff since last August when the STC took over Aden, the temporary headquarters of the government.

The “Riyadh agreement” suffered many setbacks and was never implemented, but Saudi made a new push in July to invigorate the process.

Yemen’s war has driven millions of people to the verge of starvation, requiring the world’s biggest humanitarian response.

The dispute within the anti-Houthi camp has been holding up U.N. efforts to negotiate a ceasefire in the wider conflict.

Reporting by Nayera Abdallah , Alaa Swilam and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Sandra Maler, Leslie Adler and Michael Perry

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