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Yemen's Hadi arrives in Saudi Arabia

Yemen's president, Abed Mansour Hadi, has arrived in Saudi Arabia after fleeing the threat of a rebel takeover. Riyadh led airstrikes against Houthi militia after they made major advances on the city of Aden.

Saudi state television channel al Ekhbariya confirmed the embattled president's arrival in the capital, Riyadh, on Thursday.

President Abed Mansour Hadi left the southern Yemeni city of Aden under Saudi protection earlier the same day.

He was received at an airbase by Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured second from right), who is overseeing the

military operation

against Houthi Shiites threatening Hadi's rule.

Hadi's whereabouts had been largely unknown since Houthi rebels and their allies closed in on his presidential compound in the main southern city of Aden this week.

Rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, and several other strategic towns last year in a major power grab.

As Yemen teetered on the brink of

civil war

, Saudi Arabia feared the Shiite minority rebels would seize control of the whole of its Sunni-majority neighbor and force it into the sphere of Shiite Iran.

Yemen's acting foreign minister, Riyad Yassin, told reporters in Cairo that the Western-backed president would take part in a two-day Arab summit in Egypt on Saturday.

Coalition against Shiite militia

Pakistan's government said Thursday it would dispatch a top civil-military delegation to Saudi Arabia following a request that it join the coalition to defend Yemen's president.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sent representatives to the Gulf state following a meeting with top defense and military officials in Islamabad late Thursday, his office said in a statement.

The official Saudi Press Agency said that Pakistan, along with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan, had "expressed desire to participate in the operation."

Egypt and Jordan had confirmed they will join Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the coalition.

Yemen crisis provokes Tehran

Iran demanded an immediate halt to the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen on Thursday and said it would make all necessary efforts to control the crisis there.

"The Saudi-led air strikes should stop immediately," the Students News Agency ISNA quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying.

He made the comments on the sidelines of negotiations in Lausanne with six world powers to resolve a years-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

In a phone call with British Prime Minister David Cameron also on Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized the air strikes in Yemen, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

"The regional countries should avoid any measures that can intensify the crisis," Rouhani said.

Tehran had denied providing money and training to the Houthi militia after Western and Yemeni officials accused Iran of supporting the rebellion.

lw/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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