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Prospects grow for Yemen talks in Sweden next week

Middle East News
Thu, 29 Nov 2018

Aden: Yemen's warring parties suggested on Thursday that they would attend UN-sponsored peace talks expected to be held in Sweden next week as Western countries press for an end to a conflict that has pushed millions to the edge of starvation.

The United Nations is trying to reconvene talks between the government led by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Iranian-aligned Houthis who control much of the north to agree on a framework for peace.

A previous attempt to hold talks in Geneva in September collapsed when the Houthis failed to show up, accusing their adversaries of obstruction.

Mohammed Ali Al Houthi, head of the Houthis' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said their delegation would arrive in Sweden on December 3 "if safe exit and return is guaranteed and there are positive indications peace is a priority".

Al Arabiya TV said that Hadi's delegation would arrive after the Houthis.

A spokeswoman for UN special envoy Martin Griffiths' office declined to give a date for the talks but Michael Aron, Riyadh-based British ambassador to Yemen, tweeted to Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdusalam that "the Sweden consultations led by the UN envoy will take place next week".

Griffiths met representatives of Yemen's political parties in Jordan. Two of them said Griffiths hoped to hold peace talks on December 4, but that it would depend on the evacuation of 50 wounded Houthis. Griffiths said this would happen by Monday.

The attempt to convene talks in September collapsed after the Houthis asked for guarantees that their plane would not be inspected. They also wanted to evacuate some wounded to Oman.

British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt has said Saudi Arabia is willing to evacuate the wounded Houthis. Kuwait has offered to provide planes to get both sides to Stockholm.

The United Nations hopes to halt fighting around Hodeidah, the entry point for most of Yemen's commercial imports and vital aid supplies, as a stepping stone to a broader ceasefire.

The Houthis have agreed to hand over the management of the port itself to the United Nations, but the warring sides are at odds over who should control the city.

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