Riyadh Urges Southern Yemeni Separatists to Reverse Self-Rule Decision

The Saudi cabinet on Tuesday called for the situation in Yemen to return to the way it was before separatists seized control in the interim capital Aden and some southern governorates, according to state news agency SPA.

The Southern Transitional Council declared a state of emergency on Sunday and said it would self-govern these areas, Arab News reported.

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on Monday urged the separatists to reverse their decision, describing it as “escalatory action” at a time when everyone should be focusing on the coronavirus crisis.

Also on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington is “concerned” about the actions of the STC, warning that they threaten the efforts to revive peace talks between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels.

“Such unilateral actions only exacerbate instability in Yemen,” he said. “We call on the STC and the Republic of Yemen government to re-engage in the political process provided under the Riyadh Agreement.”

King Salman began the cabinet meeting, which took place by video conference, by thanking everyone in the Kingdom and other countries who had sent congratulations for the start of Ramadan.

The cabinet members passed on their own best wishes for the holy month to the king, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi citizens and all the Islamic peoples of the world.

They also expressed their appreciation to the king for his speech on the eve of Ramadan, during which he said he was proud of the precautionary and preventive measures being taken by Saudi authorities to combat the coronavirus, and thanked all those working tirelessly to slow its spread, including health-care providers, military and security personnel, government officials and all those on the front lines of the battle.

Saudi Acting Minister of Media Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi said after the meeting that the cabinet reviewed a number of reports on local and international developments relating to the pandemic. These including the latest information about confirmed cases in the Kingdom, the care provided to patients, and progress reports on the implementation of procedures and measures to preserve public health.

Al-Qasabi praised the efforts by authorities in the Kingdom to provide immediate examinations for patients showing symptoms of infection, and supply the tests, medical equipment and medicines needed to deal with the virus. In particular he welcomed the signing of a SR995 million ($265 million) contract to carry out 9 million tests and increase the capacity of laboratories across the Kingdom to analyze the results.

The cabinet also welcomed a royal order to partially lift the curfew in most parts of the country, as well as the resumption of some economic activities, subject to adherence to precautionary and preventive measures.

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