Houthi militias to attend Geneva peace talks

Conflicting reports on Thursday said Houthis have agreed to join the U.N.-brokered talks

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Yemen's Houthi rebels agreed on Friday to attend U.N.-brokered peace talks in Switzerland, as the war-torn country's exiled government confirmed it too would attend.

"We accepted the invitation of the United Nations to go to the negotiating table in Geneva without preconditions," said Daifallah al-Shami, a politburo member of the rebels' political wing.

The U.N. envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has for weeks been shuttling between the Houthi-controlled capital, the exiled government in Riyadh and other regional capitals to support for peace talks in Geneva.

He has now tentatively set June 14 for talks between all parties to the conflict and told the U.N Security Council on Wednesday that Yemen's government is ready to go to Geneva but that the rebels have yet to confirm they will attend.

The talks would be aimed at securing a ceasefire, agreeing on a withdrawal plan for the Houthis and stepping up deliveries of humanitarian aid, Agence France-Presse reported diplomats as saying.

A Saudi-led coalition of Arab states has been bombing Houthi forces for over two months in an attempt to restore President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, coalition warplanes targeted arms depots at the Hamza military base in Ibb province and air raids also hit a Houthi base in Dhamar province, witnesses told AFP.

Thursday’s raids followed a night of intensive air strikes against rebels in Taez and coastguard positions in Hodeida in western Yemen, as well as Houthi positions in their northern stronghold of Saada.

(with Reuters and AFP)

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