UN: Yemen talks in Kuwait end, peace efforts to continue

‘Yemen peace talks will resume in a month, and the location will be decided later,’ Ould Cheikh Ahmed told reporters during a press conference

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UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced on Saturday the end of Yemen peace talks in Kuwait, but said negotiation between the two Yemeni warring sides will resume within a month.

“Yemen peace talks will resume in a month, and the location will be decided later,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed told reporters during a press conference in Kuwait.

The UN, meanwhile, did not ask Kuwait to hots the second rounds of talks, Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.

The envoy thanked the two sides: the internationally recognized government of Abedrabu Mansur Hadi, and the Iran-backed Houthi militias and their allied former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his loyalists.

The diplomat said bringing the two sides “at one negotiation table was an achievement in itself,” but said “trust was missing,” calling to implement measures to build “trust” between the two.

The envoy highlighted nine points as recommendation for the two, including the release of all political prisoners and bringing military experts to the next round of talks.

He said: “We will leave the two sides time to consult with their leadership.”

The envoy rejected that the talks in Kuwait have failed, and criticized any “unilateral” steps taken by any of the two sides.

But he did not make any further mention of how the Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh on Saturday appointed a council set up to govern Yemen, in a new blow to the UN-mediated peace talks.

The militia alliance announced the creation of the council on July 28, a move denounced by Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed said previously it would damage the talks and represented a “grave breach” of UN Security Council Resolution 2216.

The council includes 10 members, equally divided between Houthi and Saleh loyalists, according to a list published by the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency on Saturday.

They include Salah al-Sammad, head of the Houthis’ political wing Ansarullah, and Sadek Abu Ras, deputy head of Saleh’s party, the General People’s Congress.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed is expected to announce the suspension of the talks on Saturday in Kuwait, in the presence of the Houthis and government delegations.

The UN envoy told Kuwaiti TV on Thursday that he hopes to relaunch talks in the future.

The talks began on April 21 but broke down last month when the Houthis rejected a UN peace plan, saying any settlement must include the formation of a unity government.

That amounts to an explicit demand for the removal of the internationally recognized president, Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Yemeni government had been ready to accept the UN plan, but its delegation left Kuwait on Monday until the Houthis agree to the proposed accord.

The draft plan called on the Houthis to withdraw from territories they had occupied and give up heavy weapons they had seized from the army.

The two sides would also exchange prisoners before the launch of political negotiations.

The plan was presented as the UN’s final proposal to resolve a conflict that has left at least 6,400 people dead and displaced 2.8 million.

Yemen has been in chaos since the Houthis entered Sanaa in September 2014.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia, which says the Houthis are backed by Iran, formed a coalition and launched a campaign of air strikes in March 2015 to push the Houthis back.

Despite heavy bombing, the Houthis still control the capital and much of northern Yemen.

(With AFP)