Ban Ki-moon calls for Ramadan truce in Yemen
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with a Yemeni government delegation on Monday, kicking off the peace talks
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for an immediate two-week humanitarian pause in Yemen to mark Ramadan as talks got underway in Geneva to try and resolve the conflict.
"I have emphasized the importance of another humanitarian pause for two weeks," Ban said, adding that "Ramadan begins in two days" and should be a period for "harmony, peace and reconciliation".
Ban had met with a Yemeni government delegation on Monday, kicking off peace talks held in Geneva, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
The talks had been scheduled to start on Sunday but the United Nations announced they would go ahead in Geneva on Monday.
Representatives of the exiled and internationally-recognized government of President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi flew to Geneva on Saturday. Meanwhile, a delegation of five militia representatives, including two Houthis and two members of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh's party left the capital Sanaa for Geneva on Sunday. They are expected to arrive later on Monday.
The Houthi delegation had been delaying its departure over differences with the U.N. on formalities linked to the talks, sources had told Al Arabiya News.
Also, the Houthi representatives had already refused to board another U.N. plane from Sanaa to Geneva on Saturday because it was scheduled to stop in Jizan in Saudi Arabia, which has been leading a coalition bombing them across Yemen.
The Houthis, allied with troops loyal to Saleh, overran Sanaa in September and have since taken control of large parts of the country and forcing Hadi and his government into exile in Saudi Arabia.
Monday's "preliminary inclusive consultations" in Geneva would bring together representatives of the exiled government, the Iran-backed Huthis, Saleh's General Peoples' Congress and other opposition groups, according to the U.N. envoy.
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