UN-sponsored Yemen peace talks begin in Kuwait
Kuwait’s FM in an opening speech urged Yemenis to ‘turn war into peace and backwardness into development’
Talks aimed at ending Yemen’s civil war opened in Kuwait on Thursday, with Kuwait’s foreign minister appealing to both sides to “turn war into peace” after more than a year of conflict which has killed 6,200 people and caused a humanitarian crisis.
The talks, bringing together the Houthi group and its General People’s Congress party allies with the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, were originally scheduled to start on Monday.
They were delayed over alleged truce violations and disagreements over the agenda for the negotiations.
Kuwait’s foreign minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah, in an opening speech, urged Yemenis to “turn war into peace and backwardness into development.”
The talks are based on UN Security Council resolution 2216 which calls for the Houthis to withdraw from areas they seized since 2014 and hand heavy weapons back to the government, UN special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.
“The choice today is one of two options: a safe homeland that ensures security for all of its citizens... or remnants of a land whose sons die everyday,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in an opening speech.
The talks are expected to focus on creating a more inclusive government and restoring state authority over the country, which is now divided between the Houthis and Hadi’s administration.
The crisis began in September 2014 when the Iran-allied Houthis seized the capital Sanaa. A Saudi-led Arab alliance intervened last year, launching a campaign of mostly air strikes against the Houthis in support of Hadi’s forces.
The Houthi group and the GPC had accused the Saudi-led coalition and Hadi supporters of failing to honor a truce that began on April 10, and refused to send their negotiators to Kuwait until the truce was consolidated.
They agreed to join the talks following intervention by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.