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Johnson calls for ‘restraint’ in Yemen following death of ex-president

Labour said the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh marked a dangerous new turn in the conflict.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has issued a plea for restraint from all sides in the Yemen conflict following the death of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The leader of the country’s Shiite Houthi rebels said his forces killed their former ally Mr Saleh for “treason”.

Abdul Malik al-Houthi said they had foiled a “conspiracy” by a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, to whom Mr Saleh had made peace overtures.

The United Nations called for an immediate halt to fighting in Yemen’s capital Sana’a following a dramatic escalation of ground clashes and airstrikes.

In a message released on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: “I urge restraint by all parties to the conflict following reports of the death of former President Saleh in Yemen. The UK continues to work for a political solution to the crisis in Yemen.”

His Labour shadow Emily Thornberry said Mr Saleh’s killing represented “a dangerous new turn in this conflict”.

“An already multi-sided regional conflict now faces even greater violence between Saleh loyalists and Houthi militias, which will only plunge the millions of malnourished, embattled civilians in rebel-held areas into ever more desperate danger,” she said.

“Now, more than ever before, we need an urgent UN-led effort to halt the violence on all sides, allow Yemen’s civilians to receive the humanitarian relief they need, and work towards a political solution to the conflict.

“We renew our calls on the UK government to play their part in that effort by bringing forward the draft ceasefire resolution for which the UN Security Council has now been waiting for more than a year.”

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