Yemen FM: ‘no progress’ in talks without Houthis

Yemen's warring parties agreed at U.N.-sponsored peace talks on the need for a ceasefire but the details remain under discussion

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Talks on a possible truce in the war in Yemen have made “no progress” because the Iranian-backed Houthi delegation has not come to the United Nations in Geneva where the talks are being held, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Reyad Yassin Abdulla said on Wednesday.

“Today we were supposed to have something positive. They are just sitting in their hotel making all kind of rumours,” he told Reuters. “They never showed up.”

Asked if his delegation planned to leave the talks, the minister said: “We have 48 hours.”

Yemen's warring parties have agreed at U.N.-sponsored peace talks on the need for a ceasefire but the details remain under discussion, a delegate to the discussions told Reuters earlier on Tuesday.

Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Geneva said Houthis requested a humanitarian truce declaration ahead of talks, a condition the Yemeni government has agreed on, only if Houthis and their supporters abide by the U.N. Security Council resolution 2216, passed in April.

The U.N. special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, began shuttle diplomacy in Geneva trying to bridge differences between various political factions. But they still refused to sit at the same table and spelled out clashing agendas.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon formally opened the Geneva parley on Monday calling for a humanitarian truce in Yemen, already suffering severe poverty and unemployment, to coincide with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The rebel delegation had delayed its departure from Sanaa Sunday over differences with the U.N. on formalities linked to the much-delayed talks that opened Monday, a day later than scheduled.

Exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi reiterated Tuesday that his government will only discuss with rebels a Security Council resolution ordering their withdrawal from seized territory.

In the Saudi city of Jeddah, the president told an extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that “our delegation in Geneva will only discuss the terms of applying (Resolution) 2216.”

On March 26, a Saudi-led coalition began bombing the rebels and their allies as Hadi fled to Riyadh.

Late last year the Houthis seized control of Yemen’s capital before advancing on other parts of the country.

In addition to the territorial demands, the April Security Council resolution reaffirmed the legitimacy of Yemen’s government, asked the Houthis to give up seized weapons and imposed an arms embargo and sanctions on them.