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Yemen president rejects demands to step down

February 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Yemen's president has rejected demands that he step down.

However, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for three decades, offered to begin a dialogue with protesters.

Saleh said he ordered troops not to fire at anti-government protesters unless they do it in self defense.

At least 11 people have been killed since protests erupted earlier this month.

The demonstrations in Yemen are part of a wave of unrest that has swept across the Arab world.

Saleh's government was already weak before the protests, but he claimed Monday that the opponents are a small minority. He said that protesters who want to see him step down should compete in elections.

The next scheduled vote is in 2013.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.