WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- All members of Yemeni civil and political society are called on to take part in a dialogue to address key challenges, the U.S. State Department said.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland welcomed an announcement from Yemen that a national dialogue was to begin March 18.
Yemeni President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi announced plans for a national dialogue last month. His country has struggled with national security and southern separatist campaigns in the face of a threat from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Nuland said all members of civil and political society are urged to take part in a dialogue that's transparent and constructive.
"Full participation by all segments of Yemeni society -- including (southern separatists, Houthi rebels), women, civil society organizations, youth, rural populations, and others -- is essential to address issues fundamental to Yemen's future," she said in a statement.
A national dialogue conference is expected to culminate in preparations for a draft constitution. General elections should take place in 2014.