|AL Jazeera Middle East|
Abubakr al-Qirbi, the foreign minister, says country close to reaching a deal following weeks of violent protests.
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2011 10:38
Abubakr al-Qirbi, the Yemeni foreign minister, has said he hopes for a deal on a transition of power in Yemen, and that the time frame of a transition by President Ali Abdullah Saleh could be negotiated.
"I hope it will be today, before tomorrow," Qirbi, who is serving as caretaker foreign minister, said on Saturday, adding that a deal would be based on an offer by the president to step down by year-end after elections and a new constitution.
"President Saleh is willing to look at all possibilities, as long as there are really serious commitments by the JMP [opposition] to come and initiate a serious dialogue between them and the ruling party."
Saleh said on Friday he was ready to cede power to stop more bloodshed in Yemen, but only to what he called "safe hands" after weeks of street demonstrations demanding his immediate ouster.
Qirbi said the country's main opposition party would be holding talks with the ruling party on Saturday, and that discussions would center on the time frame of a transition, among other issues.
"I think the time period is something that can be negotiated. It shouldn't be really an obstacle to reach an agreement," he said.
"I think things are very close if the real intention is really to reach an agreement. But if there are parties who want to obstruct it then of course one cannot predict."
Saleh came under mounting pressure to resign after snipers firing from rooftops killed 52 protesters a week ago after Friday prayers, triggering a string of defections including that of a senior general.
Saleh has offered a string of concessions, all rejected by opposition parties, including transfer of power after the drafting of a new constitution and holding parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of the year.