UN: Yemen foes share ‘common will’ for peace

Yemen’s warring parties began face-to-face peace talks in a bid to end the year-long conflict that has caused a humanitarian crisis

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Yemen’s warring parties have “come a long way” and share a “common will” to reach a solution, Yemen’s UN envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed told a Saturday press conference in Kuwait, where peace talks are being held.

The Houthi delegation and the General People’s Congress - a political group led by deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh - presented papers that envisioned the next phase of what needs to be done in Yemen.

The UN envoy stated that despite positive signs of a political understanding between the opposing factions, there are still several obstacles to peace.

In the press conference, the UN envoy also stated that there had been no airstrikes on the country over the past five days.

The envoy added that humanitarian relief has reached various parts of Yemen, where more than 21 million people are in need of aid.

However shortly after the press confrence, Al Arabiya News channel reported bombing raids carried out by Houthi militias against the Popular Resistance in Taiz killed at least two and wounded five.

Yemen’s warring parties began face-to-face peace talks on Saturday on “key issues” in a bid to end the conflict in the impoverished Arab country, the United Nations said.

“All delegations are present. Key issues will be addressed,” Charbel Raji, spokesman for Yemen’s UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, told AFP about the negotiations taking place in Kuwait.

Most of the meetings in talks which began April 21 have so far been confined to encounters between rival delegations and Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

More than 6,800 people have been killed and around 2.8 million displaced in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition began operations in March 2015 against Iran-backed Houthi militia, who seized swathes of territory including the capital Sanaa.

Key issues to navigate include the withdrawal of armed groups, a handover of heavy weapons, the resumption of a political transition and the release of prisoners.

The new phase of meetings comes after the government and rebel delegations each submitted a framework for a political and security solution to end the 13-month war.

The government delegation said their proposal is based on implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which states that the rebels must withdraw from seized territories and disarm before talks can progress.

Meanwhile, the insurgent-controlled sabanews.net website quoted an unnamed source from the rebel delegation as saying that their proposals include “forming a consensus authority that would oversee (political) transition.”

The rebel proposals also include lifting of the blockade imposed by the Saudi-led military coalition on Yemen.

Sabanews.net website reported that a “new phase in the negotiations begins Saturday, which would truly test the positions of the United Nations and international community” in the search for peace.

Both sides said that they were committed to ensuring the success of the talks in Kuwait, which were preceded by a shaky ceasefire that came into effect on April 11.

The main sticking point remains that the rebels want to discuss a political settlement before surrendering arms while the government delegation insists that implementing the UN resolution is a priority.

The government delegation on Friday urged the UN envoy to pressure the insurgents to end what it called ceasefire violations by the rebels.

The UN Security Council on Monday stressed the importance of agreeing on a “roadmap” to implement security measures including the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Yemeni towns.

(With AFP)

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