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I am going to quit: Yemen leader

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said he is willing to leave power in his first major speech since returning to the country.

It was not the first time Mr Saleh has expressed a willingness to step down amid eight months of mass protests demanding his removal.

Still, he has repeatedly refused to resign immediately and rejected a US-backed deal for him to hand over his authority.

Mr Saleh was gravely wounded in an explosion at his presidential palace in June, after which he went to Saudi Arabia for treatment.

During his absence, mediators and opposition groups sought to convince him to stay away and transfer power to his deputy - a way to launch the regional power transfer deal. Mr Saleh declined and returned abruptly to Yemen late last month.

A violent crackdown against his opponents followed, with outright street battles in the capital Sanaa between troops loyal to his son Ahmed and dissident military units and pro-opposition tribesmen.

In the meantime, the long-time leader has come under a considerable pressure from the international community to step down.

His new declaration aired on state TV gave little clue to his intentions. Mr Saleh spoke to a gathering of lawmakers, his hands encased in brown gloves, apparently because of burns from the June bombing.

"I never wanted power. I will reject power in the coming days. I will give it up," he said. "But there are men who will take power. There are men who are true to their pledges, whether military or civilians, who will take power. They can never destroy the country."

He did not say who he was referring to or give any firm commitment to resign. Mr Saleh said he would meet with parliament in the coming days to "transparently discuss" the situation in Yemen.

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