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Hammond welcomes Yemen talks ‘progress’

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond attends the opening session of the second Regional Security Summit in Abuja, Nigeria May 14, 2016. (Reuters)

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Sunday welcomed "progress" in Yemen peace talks, saying a solution to the conflict in the battered Arabian Peninsula country must be political, not military.

Speaking in Saudi Arabia at the start of a three-day visit to Gulf monarchies, Hammond also said world powers will not "turn a blind eye" to attempts by Iran to destabilize the region.

"In Yemen, progress is being made and we recognize the efforts of the Gulf states, and I have to give particular thanks to Kuwait for hosting the peace negotiations," Hammond told a news conference in Jeddah.

"All of us must continue to work towards a settlement," he told reporters, flanked by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

"There is no military alternative to a political settlement in Yemen and there is now a need to win the peace particularly by helping Yemen with stabilization and humanitarian aid," Hammond said.

His comments come days after the UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, also spoke about progress in the five-week-old talks under way in Kuwait between the Yemeni government and Iran-backed Shiite Houthi militias and their allies.

The apparent progress comes after Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi said on Monday that the government stood ready to make concessions for the sake of peace.

Informed sources at the Yemen talks said that the committee for prisoners and detainees has met to complete lists of prisoner requests to UN mediators.

The list will include 1,000 prisoners to be swapped before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the sources added.

Meanwhile, at least 69 people have been killed and dozens injured in two days of fighting in central Yemen between Houthis and forces loyal to the internationally recognized government, Yemeni security officials said.

The officials said government-allied forces have taken control of several areas previously controlled by the rebels, known as the Houthis, between the central provinces of Marib and Shabwa.

The government-allied forces said that 22 of their fighters were killed and 25 were injured. They said the clashes were ongoing.

Tanks and armored vehicles were burnt, and the bodies of some of those killed were left uncollected due to the heavy fighting, eyewitnesses said.

(With AFP and the Associated Press)
 

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Last Update: Monday, 30 May 2016 KSA 23:21 - GMT 20:21
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Hammond welcomes Yemen talks ‘progress’
Philip Hammond welcomed "progress" in Yemen peace talks, saying a solution to the conflict must be political, not military
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