Yemen parties discuss stabilizing ceasefire

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ould Cheikh Ahmed said Friday that the opening day of peace talks in Kuwait

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The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ould Cheikh Ahmed said Friday that the opening day of peace talks in Kuwait were constructive, despite the warring factions’ failure to agree on an agenda. But participants said the UN-backed peace negotiations would continue.

The talks in Kuwait, which opened late on Thursday, bring together the Iran-allied Houthi movement and its General People’s Congress (GPC) party allies with the Saudi-backed government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The talks seek a solution to a conflict which has killed more than 6,200 people, triggered a humanitarian crisis and enabled militants linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS to consolidate their presence in the country.

Sources present at the talks, delayed since Monday due to the late arrival of the Houthi delegation and its allies, said the two sides were divided on the priorities and the first session was dedicated to discuss the ways to stabilize the ceasefire.

The government delegation wants Houthis and fighters loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to withdraw from cities and hand over weapons before discussing a political solution, the sources said.

The Houthis and its allies want the formation of a new government representing all parties, which will then oversee disarmament. They also want to focus the discussion on security arrangements and detainees, the sources added.

The sources declined to be named because the talks being held at the palace of Kuwait’s ruling emir are closed to the media.

Yemen’s crisis began in September 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa. A Saudi-led Arab alliance intervened in March last year, launching a campaign of mostly air strikes against the Houthis in support of Hadi’s forces.

A temporary truce between the government and Houthis has mostly held in place since April 10, although both sides have accused each other of violations.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Thursday outlined five points as the basis for the alks, officially dubbed “consultations”.

These included withdrawal from cities seized by the Houthis since the crisis began in 2014, forming a more inclusive government and handing over heavy weapons to the new government in the country, which is currently divided between the Houthis and Hadi’s administration, based in the southern port of Aden. Its representatives move between there and Saudi Arabia.

Yemen talks start


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