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Gulf Arab ministers condemn Houthi 'coup' in Yemen

RIYADH (Reuters) - Gulf Arab foreign ministers on Wednesday condemned what they called a coup d’etat by Yemen’s Houthi movement after the Shi’ite Muslim group seized the presidential palace and defeated its guards in two days of battle.

However, while the six wealthy monarchies also described the Houthis’ actions as terrorism, they stopped short of promising any measure to counter the group’s growing sway in Sanaa.

“The GCC considers what happened in Sanaa on Tuesday Jan 20 as a coup,” the ministers said in a statement after they met at a Riyadh airbase.

The ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which consists of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, called on the Houthis to withdraw from the palace and private home of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

They also demanded the Houthis free Hadi’s office manager Ahmed bin Mubarak, a former nominee for prime minister, who they detained on Saturday, normalise the security situation in the capital and return government institutions to state control.

Yemeni security is particularly important to both Saudi Arabia and Oman, which share long desert and mountain borders with the country, but also to the other GCC states who all host large numbers of migrants from the impoverished republic.

Reporting by Angus McDowall, Writing by William Maclean,; Editing by Angus MacSwan