UN talks to open roads to blockaded Yemen city inconclusive

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Yemen’s warring parties did not reach an agreement Saturday to lift a blockade by the Iran-backed Houthi militia of the country’s third largest city, the United Nations said, after three days of talks in the Jordanian capital.

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The announcement dampened hopes that the blockade of Taiz will be lifted as it was supposed to be as part of a UN-brokered two-month truce that ends June 1. The question of the blockaded city is key to extending the nationwide ceasefire.

Hans Grundberg, the UN envoy in Yemen, said a proposal had been floated in what he described as “an initial round of discussions” for a phased reopening of roads in Taiz and elsewhere, which would help facilitate aid deliveries and the movement of suffering Yemenis. Both delegations are still in Amman.

In a statement, he urged Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Houthis to conclude internal deliberations and deliver “positive results to the Yemeni people” in subsequent talks.

The UN mission did not provide further details on the proposal or say when the parties would resume talks.

The truce is the first nationwide cease-fire in the past six years of Yemen’s civil war, a conflict that is now in its eighth year. On-the-ground fighting, airstrikes and bombardment have subsided and the rebels have stopped their cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two pillars of the Arab coalition that supports the government forces in the war.

Yemen’s conflict broke out in 2014 when the Houthis seized Sanaa, and forced the internationally recognized government into exile. The Arab coalition entered the war in early 2015 to try to restore the government to power.

The conflict created now one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world while becoming a regional proxy war in recent years. More than 150,000 people have been killed, including over 14,500 civilians.

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