SANAA, Yemen, March 18 (UPI) -- Yemeni President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi called on protesters Monday to leave an assembly room during the start of a national dialogue session.
Hadi launched a long-awaited national dialogue session Monday that has U.N. and international support. Al-Arabiya broadcast the start of the conference, during which the president asked demonstrators to leave the assembly room.
The sessions were delayed from November because those supporting a southern separatist movement refused to participate.
Al-Arabiya reports supporters of the movement waved the flag of the former independent South Yemen during weekend protests.
Yemen is trying to move past conflicts during the previous administration of long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh, separatists and the presence of al-Qaida. The U.S. government in early March said it provided more than $350 million in assistance to help Yemen meet its political aspirations.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said at recent Yemeni conference in London that dialogue would be difficult. "But the alternative of more bloodshed and destruction is far worse."
Some members of the southern movement attended Monday's session.
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