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Gunmen claiming to be loyal to President Ali Abdallah Saleh of Yemen laid siege Sunday afternoon to the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Sana’a, trapping ambassadors of the United States, Britain and the European Union, and those from the six members states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Also trapped inside the UAE embassy was the secretary general of the GCC, Abdullatif al-Zayani.
The envoys were waiting for word about whether Mr. Saleh would, as promised, sign a historic GCC-negotia
Yemen President Refuses to Sign Deal Despite Pressure
Yemen’s embattled president resisted intense American and Arab pressure on Sunday and stalled at signing a deal calling for him to step down in 30 days, as his government brought armed supporters into the streets demanding that he stay. Hundreds of militiamen trapped the American and other ambassadors inside a diplomatic mission for hours.
The militiamen, armed with knives and swords, blocked the entrances to the United Arab Emirates Embassy, where at least five American, European and Arab ambassadors had gathered, expecting President Ali Abdullah Saleh to arrive to sign the agreement.
Finally in the evening, Yemeni military helicopters landed at the embassy and ferried the diplomats out, taking them to the presidential palace. There they witnessed several Yemeni ruling party officials sign the accord. But Mr. Saleh, shown on state TV standing alongside the United States ambassador, did not sign.
Mr. Saleh said afterward he would not sign unless opposition leaders attend and sign it as well in public, not “behind closed doors.”
SANAA, Yemen — Witnesses say Yemeni army helicopters took U.S. and other ambassadors out of a besieged embassy to the presidential palace to witness ruling party leaders signing an agreement for the president to step down in 30 days.
However, state TV says President Ali Abdullah Saleh will not sign the deal unless opposition leaders are present.
The U.S., European and Arab ambassadors, who were pressing Saleh to sign the accord, were trapped for hours Sunday in an embassy by an armed mob of the president's supporters. Eventually, Yemeni army helicopters ferried the diplomats out to the palace.
State TV then showed ruling party leaders signing the pact at the palace as Saleh and the U.S. ambassador stood behind them. Saleh himself did not sign.