Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Is peace in Yemen within reach? | Houthis

Is peace in Yemen within reach? | Houthis

Although no date has been announced for the start of the negotiations, Yemeni government sources say they could begin on Thursday.

These include Sanaa and the port city of Hodeidah, now a focus of the war.

The first Yemen peace talks since 2016 are the best chance yet to end the war, analysts say, as the global community throws its weight behind resolving the devastating conflict.

A 12-member government delegation, led by Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, arrived in Stockholm Wednesday evening, one day after a rebel delegation flew in from Sanaa - accompanied by the United Nations envoy.

A delegation of the Iranian-aligned Houthi group has arrived in Sweden for United Nations sponsored peace talks, and a Saudi-backed Yemeni delegation is on its way.

The US State Department hailed the peace talks in Sweden as a "necessary and vital first step" and called on all parties to "cease any ongoing hostilities".

Representatives of the Houthi rebels, who control about a third of the country, including the capital, Sanaa, and the port city of Hodeidah, arrived in Stockholm last night after being personally escorted out of the country by the UN's special envoy, Martin Griffith.

The almost four-year-old conflict, which has killed thousands and left millions facing starvation, pits the Iranian-aligned Houthi group against Yemeni forces backed by an Arab coalition loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Yemen war: Wounded Houthis rebels to be evacuated

Mohammed Abdelsalam, heading the 12-member rebel team, tweeted that the Huthis "will spare no effort to make a success of the talks to restore peace and end the aggression".

A previous attempt to bring the two sides to Geneva in September failed after the Houthis accused government forces of preventing their plane from taking off.

Hadi's government is expected to follow the group, whose attendance was secured after the evacuation of 50 wounded Houthis for treatment in Oman on Monday.

The war has caused the world's worst humanitarian crisis in recent times.

Outrage over the October 2 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has intensified worldwide scrutiny of Saudi activities in the region, potentially giving Western powers, which provide arms and intelligence to the coalition, more leverage to demand action.

Twenty-nine million civilians are in need of humanitarian aid while 14 million are at risk of starvation as a result of the war and subsequent sieges which the Saudi-led coalition has imposed on a number of cities in an effort to starve and fore Houthi fighters out of them. Three-quarters of impoverished Yemen's population, or 22 million people, require aid.

The coalition said in a statement it had agreed on the evacuation "for humanitarian considerations and as part of confidence-building measures" ahead of the talks, which are also due to focus on a transitional governing body.

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