Yemen govt invited to U.N.-brokered peace talks

Smoke billows from a military arms depot after it was hit by a Saudi-led air strike on the Nuqom Mountain overlooking Yemen's capital Sanaa, October 15, 2015. (Reuters)

The Yemeni government has been invited to take part in a new round of U.N.-brokered talks with rebels to end the country’s seven-month-old conflict, spokesman Rajih Badi said Saturday.

“We have received an invitation from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, via his envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, to hold a new round of consultations with the Houthis and (rebel-allied former strongman) Ali Abdullah Saleh to implement U.N. Resolution 2216,” Badi told AFP.

The announcement comes two days after U.N. Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said he hoped new talks between the Yemeni government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels could start this month despite “deep distrust” between the warring parties.

Badi said that “until now, there has been no agreement on the venue or a specific date” for the consultations.

But he told the pro-government news agency sabanew.net that the government will “officially respond to the U.N. invitation within the next 48 hours”.

Resolution 2216 calls for the withdrawal of rebel forces from territories they have captured and for them to lay down their arms.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has held talks with Ban in past days to discuss “preparation for consultations to end the bloodshed”, sabanew.net reported.

Around 4,500 civilians have been killed in the conflict since March.

A first attempt to hold peace talks in Geneva in June between the pro-government forces and Houthi rebels collapsed without the warring parties even sitting down in the same room.

Last month, Hadi’s government backed away from U.N.-sponsored talks that were to be held in Oman, insisting the rebels first withdraw from territory they have seized.

The Houthis overran the capital Sanaa unopposed in September 2014 and went on to battle for control of several regions, aided by renegade troops loyal to Saleh.

In July, loyalist forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition evicted the rebels from five southern provinces, and they have since set their sights on Sanaa.

Hundreds of Sudanese troops arrived Saturday in the southern port city of Aden “to take part in the coalition’s operations and secure the city”, Yemeni security officials told AFP.

Sudan is part of the coalition backing the internationally-recognised Hadi, but so far Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have contributed the bulk of forces.

The official WAM news agency published a UAE armed forces statement saying that an Emirati soldier, Hadef Hameed al-Shamsi, taking part in the coalition operations in Yemen has been killed.

“Gunmen shot dead an Emirati who came out of an armoured vehicle to buy a sandwich from a shop” in Aden, a security official in Aden told AFP.

The UAE has lost 68 soldiers fighting as part of the coalition.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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