Ban Ki-moon urges U.N. talks to prevent long Yemen conflict

Th U.N. chief urged Arab leaders to resolve the crisis in Yemen peacefully

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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told an Arab heads-of-state summit on Saturday that the only way to prevent a protracted conflict in Yemen was through U.N.-facilitated negotiations.

"Negotiations -- facilitated by my Special Envoy Jamal Benomar and endorsed by the Security Council -- remain the only chance to prevent long, drawn-out conflict," he said during his speech at the 26th Arab League Summit.

"It is my fervent hope that at this Arab League summit, leaders will lay down clear guidelines to peacefully resolve the crisis in Yemen," he told the summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The U.N. envoy to Yemen has left Sanaa earlier today, reported Al Arabiya news channel earlier today.

The Saudi Press Agency also reported on Saturday that its navy had evacuated 86 Arab and foreign diplomats and others from Aden on Wednesday. The

It did not identify the nationalities of all those it evacuated in the special operation, though it said diplomats from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar were on hand Saturday when those evacuated arrived at a Jiddah naval base.

Dozens of foreign diplomats, including United Nations staff, still were awaiting evacuation Saturday by air in Sanaa, airport officials said on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

Pakistan also announced Saturday it had two planes standing by to evacuate its citizens.

Expressing his concerns over the protracted conflict in Syria, the U.N. chief also admitted to feeling "shame" and "anger" at the international community's failure to end the Syrian conflict and promised to step up diplomatic efforts.

"I confess to you my anger and my shame. Anger at observing the Syrian government, extremist and terrorist groups and terrorists relentlessly destroy their country," he said.

"Shame at sharing in the collective failure of international and regional communities to decisively act to stop the carnage that has afflicted the Arab brothers and sisters of Syria," he told an Arab summit meeting in Egypt.

Several heads of states, including Saudi King Salman, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi addressed the contingent of Arab leaders at summit and expressed similar worries over the threats facing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Placing the Yemeni crisis on top of the agenda, the summit is expected to focus on creating an Arab military force to fight against extremist militants or their rival Iran, a project foreign ministers have already signed a draft agreement in the Arab League meeting on Thursday.

The ministers called on the leaders of the Arab League’s 22-member nations to meet within a month to lay out the details of the military force such as budgeting.

The chaos in Libya and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will also be on top of this year’s agenda.

[With agencies]

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