Yemen’s Zaidi Shiite rebels have agreed to join a national dialogue aimed at easing the country out of a protracted political crisis, a commission in charge of the talks said on Thursday.
“The Huthis have agreed to take part in a serious dialogue... to resolve the country’s problems and achieve the objectives of the popular revolution,” the commission said in a statement carried on the official Saba news agency.
Zaidi rebel chief, Abdul Malek al-Huthi, met members of the commission in his stronghold of Saada, in the north, and said he was ready to “take part in building a state for all the citizens of Yemen,” the commission said.
The rebels, also known as Huthis, launched an uprising against the regime of then president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2004 and for the next six years fought deadly battles with government troops.
A truce was signed in February 2010, capping a rebellion that claimed thousands of lives, but clashes with government troops and tribesmen continued off and on.
Saleh stepped down in February following a year of protests demanding his ouster, in line with a Gulf-brokered deal which also stipulated that the new government organize a national dialogue.
The Shiite rebels in the north as well as secessionists in the south are expected to take part in the national dialogue with the new government, although no date has been announced for the talks.