Britain urges swift Yemen transition

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Britain on Monday warned that Yemen's "grave economic, social and security challenges" would escalate unless the transition from President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule was achieved quickly.

British Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt urged all sides to "seize this opportunity and finalise an agreement" following talks with Anwar Mohammed Gargash, United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs.

Anti-Saleh protesters, who have been demonstrating across Yemen since late January, rallied Monday against a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plan under which the leader would quit in 30 days with immunity from prosecution.

"We strongly support the GCC initiative to resolve the crisis in Yemen," Burt said in a statement.

"The GCC initiative represents our best hope for a constructive and peaceful way forward," added Burt.

During Monday's unrest, security forces and loyalists of Saleh shot dead two protesters as hundreds of thousands turned out to demand his immediate ouster, medics and witnesses said.

"It is vital that agreement is reached as quickly as possible, to avoid further violence and to enable a new government to tackle Yemen's grave economic, social and security challenges," urged Burt.

"Further delays serve only to foster instability and hurt most Yemen's resilient but long-suffering people."

© 2011 AFP

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