Sana'a (dpa) - Houthi rebels who control much of Yemen said Sunday they were willing to resume talks with rivals if a Saudi-led coalition backing embattled President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi stopped its bombing campaign.
Houthi politburo member Mohammed al-Bukhaiti told dpa that the group remained committed to political dialogue on condition that it was held in Sana'a, the capital controlled by the mainly Shiite rebels.
Before fleeing Yemen late last month for neighbouring Saudi Arabia,Hadi called for UN-brokered talks to be transferred to the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Al-Bukhaiti's statement came as Houthi forces advanced on Yemen's biggest port, in the southern city of Aden, and were accused by Islamist rivals of abducting hundreds of their supporters.
Local sources in Aden, which Hadi had briefly proclaimed his temporary capital, said the rebels had pushed into the al-Ma'alla district around the port in fighting with pro-Hadi militias.
Despite heavy shelling, the Houthis and their allies had captured provincial government headquarters there, the sources said.In Sana'a, the Sunni Islamist Islah Party accused the Houthis of arresting "dozens" of its leaders and activists.
The party, which has backed the Saudi-led air campaign, said prominent leader Mohammed Qahtan had been among those arrested, while party offices and leaders' houses were stormed.
Youth activists have accused the rebel militia of abducting colleagues who organized demonstrations against the group's expansion.Evacuations of foreign nationals continued apace, with India announcing that it had transported almost 700 mostly Indian citizens Sunday out of Yemen.Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said three Air India planes had flown out 488 nationals from Sana'a in the "largest evacuation to date."Another 203 people were evacuated by sea from the south-eastern town of al-Shihr, Akbaruddin wrote on Twitter.An official at Sana'a airport, who asked not to be named, said Pakistani and Turkish planes had evacuated a number of foreign nationals.
Sunday's departures came a day after the Indian Navy evacuated a further 400 people from Aden.
Yemeni airspace has been closed to most traffic since Saudi Arabia and Arab allies started targeting the Houthi rebels in late March.The Saudis and other Sunni monarchies in the Gulf have been backing Hadi, fearing that regional rival Iran stands to gain from a Houthi advance.According to the United Nations, more than 500 people have been killed and nearly 1,700 injured over the last two weeks in Yemen.
The Red Cross and Russia have called for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire to allow medical aid to reach areas hit by the fighting and allow residents safe access to food and water.
The Houthis, backed by army units thought to be loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, now control much of northern Yemen and are trying to advance on remaining Hadi loyalists in the formerly independent south.
The Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda has seized control of Mukalla, capital of Hadhramaut province in south-eastern Yemen