Kerry urges Houthis, allies to enter talks

Yemen’s ex-president Saleh also urged his rebel allies to implement U.N. decisions in return to halt Saudi-led coalition airstrikes

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday urged Houthi rebels in Yemen and those who have “influence over them” to come to the negotiating table and end the unrest in conflict-torn country.

“This has to be a two-way street,” Kerry told reporters, saying Saudi Arabia was moving to a humanitarian phase of its Yemen campaign and “we need the Houthi and we need those that can influence them to make sure that they are prepared to try to move... to the negotiating table.”

The United Nations had already appointed a facilitator and both sides appeared ready to discuss a location for peace talks, Kerry said.

“Now the key is to get that up and running and get to the talks as fast as possible because a political solution is absolutely essential,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

Innocent civilians were being caught up in the violence in Yemen and it was “a top priority to try to minimize it,” he added.

“Hopefully in the next days this will de-escalate even more and we can get to a place where negotiations take hold.”

Meanwhile, Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday urged his rebel allies to implement U.N. Security Council decisions in return for a halt in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

“I call on Ansarullah (the Shiite Houthi rebels) to accept all U.N. Security Council decisions and to implement them in return for a halt in the coalition forces’ aggression,” Saleh said in a statement read out on his behalf on his private television channel Yemen Today.

“I urge them and everyone -- militias and al-Qaeda as well as militias loyal to (President Abdrabbu Mansour) Hadi, to withdraw from all provinces, especially Aden,” the main southern city where fighting has raged between rival forces.

A U.N. Security Council resolution this month imposed an arms embargo on the militia leaders, including Saleh’s own son Ahmed, and demanded that the Houthis withdraw from government institutions they had seized since they overran Sanaa in September.

(With AFP)

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