The STC negotiation team arrives in Riyadh to end Yemen standoff

At the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the southern forces arrived to talk about implementing a power-sharing deal signed in November

A fighter loyal to Yemen's separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) holds the separatist flag in the southern Abyan province on May 18, 2020, following a three-hour ceasefire deal between pro-government troops and separatist forces.  / AFP / Nabil HASAN
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Senior negotiators from Yemen's Southern Transitional Council arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday at the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to find a solution to a rift with pro-government forces in Aden.

The team is led by Brigadier Aidrous Al Zubaidi and comes as Riyadh seeks to end the disagreement between the STC and the government that has led to clashes in southern Yemen.

"We arrived in the capital in response to this kind invitation and to reaffirm the strength of the brotherly relationship that binds our southern people and the leaders and the people of Saudi Arabia," Brig Al Zubaidi said on his arrival. "We reaffirm our commitment in the partnership with the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia to combat the sabotage projects that targets the Arab national security, and we hope that this visit would produce desired results regarding finding solutions for the humanitarian and the political issues".

The visit comes amid efforts to end the STC-Government dispute after both sides accuse the other of holding up an agreement hashed out in November on power-sharing in the south. The deal brought an end to fighting over the summer in and around Aden, the de-facto capital of Yemen since the Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of Sanaa in a coup in late 2014.

"This visit is very important, it is going to focus on a push towards implementing the Riyadh agreement. I think the visit is going to move the stagnant water," Nazar Haiytham, spokesperson of the STC, told The National.

STC and government forces have been fighting in Shoqrah district of eastern Abyan province since Sunday. The clashes renewed with government forces launching a large operation against STC bases in Al Sheikh Salem between Abyan and Aden. However, an STC countered attack pushed back the government forces to the Karn Al Kalasi area in eastern Abyan.