Yemen's Hadi urges rebels to lay down arms

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi is calling on Huthi rebels to give up (AFP Photo/)

Aden (AFP) - President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi on Sunday urged Shiite rebels to lay down their arms and resume dialogue to end Yemen's conflict, as he left for the UN General Assembly.

The embattled leader, who returned Wednesday to the southern city of Aden after a nearly six-month exile, headed to New York where he is to address the General Assembly.

"I am open to all efforts seeking a political solution," Hadi said in a letter addressed to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, where the Yemeni leader took shelter in March after rebels advanced on Aden, his last refuge at the time after having escaped house arrest in Huthi-controlled Sanaa.

Hadi also called on rebels "to end their coup, surrender weapons ... and return to the dialogue table, to implement the UN Security Council Resolution 2216," which demands the insurgents withdraw from territories they have occupied.

The rebels overran Sanaa unopposed in September last year and went on to expand their control zone into several regions, aided in fierce fighting against pro-Hadi forces by renegade troops loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In July, loyalist forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition evicted the rebels from Aden and four other southern provinces, and they have since set their sights on advancing on Sanaa.

In a letter to Hadi, King Salman congratulated Hadi on his return to Aden and pledged support to the internationally-recognised president.

"We in the coalition stand firmly, with all our strength, by your side... to protect your country," Salman wrote.

The United Nations says nearly 4,900 people, including a vast number of civilians, have been killed in Yemen's conflict since late March.