Yemen govt halts its participation in peace talks

Yemen’s government suspends its participation for the second time in a new setback to the UN-backed peace process

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Yemen’s government suspended its participation in talks with Iran-backed militias Tuesday for the second time this month, the foreign minister said, in a new setback to the UN-backed peace process.

Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi said on Twitter that the Houthi Shiite militia who control the capital had "torpedoed the talks completely," by backtracking on their commitments after a month of negotiations.

“I have asked the UN envoy not to allow the rebels to waste any more time ... and to make them comply with the reference issues before we resume the talks,” said Mikhlafi, who heads the government delegation.

In particular the government wants the Houthis to comply with a UN Security Council resolution ordering them to pull out of territory they occupied in a 2014 offensive and surrender heavy arms they captured.

Sources close to the government and rebel delegations confirmed to AFP that a session scheduled to take place on Tuesday morning was cancelled after the government delegation withdrew.

The pullout comes two days after UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he was optimistic about achieving a peaceful settlement in the war-torn country.

The two delegations were on the verge of finalizing a deal to release half of the detainees and prisoners before the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan in early June.

The United Nations estimates that more than 6,400 people have been killed and 2.8 million displaced in Yemen since March last year.

A major stumbling block at the talks in Kuwait City remains the form of government that would control Yemen in a transitional period.

The rebels want to share power with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi while his delegation insists he is the legitimate UN-backed head of state.

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