U.N. envoy heads to France, Saudi Arabia to revive Yemen talks
Ould Cheikh Ahmed will hold talks in Paris on Wednesday and travel to Saudi Arabia the following day
The UN envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, will travel to Paris later Tuesday on his way to Riyadh to try to re-launch peace talks, UN officials and diplomats said.
It will be the Mauritanian diplomat's first trip to the region since he took up the post as peace envoy for Yemen less than two weeks ago.
The envoy replaced Jamal Benomar, who resigned after losing support from Gulf states when Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels pushed ahead with an offensive.
Talks collapsed after the Huthis seized the capital Sanaa and advanced on Aden, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee into exile to Saudi Arabia.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed will hold talks in Paris on Wednesday and travel to Saudi Arabia the following day, diplomats told AFP.
But a visit to Yemen has yet to be scheduled, UN officials said.
The envoy discussed his challenging mission with US officials in Washington on Friday, just as US Secretary of State John Kerry was preparing for a trip to Saudi Arabia.
International concern is growing over the civilian death toll from the Saudi-led air campaign that has also severely crippled deliveries of fuel, food and medicine.
A coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched the air war on March 26 to prevent the Huthi rebels from taking the entire territory and to restore Hadi's authority.
Hadi has proposed holding talks between his country's rival political forces in the Saudi capital on May 17, Qatar's foreign minister said.
UN efforts to resume peace negotiations for Yemen have run into hurdles over disagreements on the venue for the talks, with Gulf countries insisting they be held in Riyadh.
Iran and other countries have said they could be held in neutral territory, and some have suggested Geneva as the venue.