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Top Obama aide calls Yemeni president

Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi walks in Beijing on November 13, 2013
Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi walks in Beijing on November 13, 2013

President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism aide called Yemen's President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi Monday, backing his efforts to enshrine a new political structure for a federal state in the strife-torn nation.

Lisa Monaco, assistant to Obama for counter terrorism and homeland security "commended the National Dialogue for its efforts to develop a shared vision for a more just and democratic Yemen," a White House statement said.

"She praised the contributions that Yemeni women, youth, and civil society have made to the National Dialogue, and expressed the hope that they will continue their engagement in subsequent stages of the transition."

Monaco also reaffirmed that the White House backed Yemen's effort to combat the security threat from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) but did not specifically say whether they discussed the controversial issue of US drone strikes against extremists in Yemen.

Hadi said last month the National Dialogue talks would be resolved within days -- they had been due to end on September 18 --- but the process remains uncompleted amid disagreement on the numbers of regions that will constitute the future state.

Once-independent southern Yemnenis are demanding two entities -- one in the north and one in the south -- while northerners want a federal state made up of several regions.

The dialogue is aimed at drawing up a new constitution for Yemen and preparing for elections in February.

After the former North and South Yemen united in 1990, the south broke away in 1994, triggering a brief civil war that ended with the region being overrun by northern troops.

The talks are part of a transitional process stipulated by a UN-backed initiative, brokered by neighboring Gulf countries, which ended a year of protests and eased former president Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office in February 2012, after 33 years in power.