U.N. announces ‘press blackout’ around Yemen peace talks

Given the delicate situation, United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed wanted to avoid on-site media coverage of the talks

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Peace talks between Yemen’s warring factions set to kick off next week will be held in a secret location, with no media access, the United Nations has said.

United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed “has decided that the venue of the meeting will not be made public, in order to give the talks every chance of success,” the U.N. said in a statement.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced the new round of talks on Monday, stressing a swift halt to the fighting was imperative for those caught up in what has increasingly become a regional conflict.

Talks to ease the violence in Yemen have been stalled for months, with the conflict escalating since March when a pro-government Arab coalition led began bombarding Iran-backed Houthi militias.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed told reporters in Geneva that three delegations would take part in talks likely to be held outside Geneva starting on December 15, with no set timeline.

The delegations include representatives of President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, the Houthi militias, and officials from the General People’s Congress (GPC), who are loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Given the delicate situation, the U.N. said Ould Cheikh Ahmed wanted to avoid on-site media coverage of the talks.

“It might be possible to hold a photo opportunity at the Palais des Nations (the U.N.’s European headquarters in Geneva) before the start of the talks,” the statement said.

“However, once the talks commence at the non-disclosed location, a press blackout will take effect,” it stressed.

Reporters would not be left completely in the dark, however.

“The Special Envoy wishes to maintain a flow of information to the media. Therefore, periodic updates may be provided,” the U.N. statement said.

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