SANAA - Western and Gulf diplomats failed on Sunday to persuade Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to sign a deal that would ease him out of power and make him the third Arab leader ousted by popular protests, diplomats said.
"It failed," one of the diplomats told Reuters. A Gulf diplomat said the Gulf Cooperation Council bloc of Yemen's wealthy oil-exporting neighbors may withdraw its initiative as a result.
Hundreds of armed Saleh loyalists rallied against the deal, blocking main roads and preventing a Gulf mediator from leaving the United Arab Emirates embassy to head to the presidential palace in Sanaa for the signing, witnesses said.
Armed Yemeni government loyalists trapped Arab and Western diplomats inside an embassy to block the signing.