20 Apr 2011

UN divided over crisis in Yemen

3:25 pm on 20 April 2011

The United Nations Security Council has called for restraint and dialogue between protesters and authorities in Yemen.

But the council's first talks on the Yemen crisis ended without an agreed public statement, with diplomats saying Russia objected.

UN envoys were briefed by a representative of the secretary general who has just returned from Yemen, the BBC reports.

Germany called for the meeting, its ambassador said, hoping to send a strong message that bloodshed must be avoided in the power struggle between the protesters and the president and to encourage mediation efforts between Arab and Gulf countries.

However, council members did not agree on a public statement.

Diplomats said Russia in particular objected. The BBC reports it was not clear why, but the Russian foreign minister has warned the Yemeni opposition not to expect Western help like Libya.

Protests turn deadly

Security forces in Yemen reportedly opened fire and used tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters in the capital Sanaa and the southern city of Taiz.

At least two protesters were killed in Sanaa on Tuesday, while another died in Taiz on Monday.

The BBC reports more than 120 people have been killed in two months of protests demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.

Mr Saleh, who has been in power for more than three decades, has said he is willing to hand over power, but only to ''safe hands''.