U.N. confirms Yemen talks for June 14

Smoke billows from a Houthi-controlled military site after it was hit by a Saudi-led air strike in Sanaa, Yemen, June 3, 2015. (File: Reuters)

The United Nations confirmed Saturday that peace talks between Houthi militia and the Yemeni government will begin in Geneva on June 14, Agence-France Presse reported.

The talks were initially scheduled for May 28 but were postponed after Houthi militiamen failed to withdraw from seized territory despite the government’s demands.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon “reiterates his urgent call on all Yemeni parties to engage in these consultations in good faith and without pre-conditions in the interest of all Yemeni people,” said a statement from his spokesman.

Yemen has been engulfed in turmoil since the Iranian-backed Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in September and advanced on the southern city of Aden, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee into Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition has carried out air strikes on Yemen since March 26 to push back the Houthis and restore Hadi’s authority. More than 2,000 people have died since the air campaign began.

In announcing the talks, Ban also repeated his call for a renewed humanitarian pause in fighting following last month’s truce.

“Such assistance is of paramount and pressing importance because the suffering of the Yemeni population, as a result of the continued conflict is increasing dramatically,” the secretary-general said.

The talks brokered by U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed would be aimed at securing a ceasefire, agreeing on a withdrawal plan for the Houthis and stepping up deliveries of humanitarian aid.

The Security Council this week heard a report from new U.N. aid chief Stephen O’Brien, who described Yemen’s humanitarian crisis as “catastrophic,” with 20 million civilians in need of aid -- 80 percent of the population.


Last Update: 19:05 KSA 22:05 - GMT 19:05