Yemen's warring parties agree to resume peace talks, says UN

Yemen's warring parties agree to resume peace talks, says UN
Rival Yemeni forces who have been at war for nearly four years, will meet for talks that could bring peace to the country.
2 min read
29 June, 2018
Hodeida is under siege from a UAE-backed Yemen force [AFP]

Yemen's warring parties have said they are open to new peace talks, the UN said on Thursday, as residents in the port city of Hodeida enjoyed a brief lull in fighting on Friday.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said both sides had agreed to restart negotiations in a bid to end the four-year war.

Griffiths spoke to Houthi militia leaders in Sanaa and the country's Aden-based internationally-recognised government - who are backed by a Saudi-led coalition - and said that both sides could restart talks after a two year hiatus.

The two sides could be brought to the negotiating table within the next few weeks "at the very latest", Griffiths told UN Radio.

He wants the UN Security Council to come up with a plan next week and present it to warring factions.

Griffiths has been in Yemen, where he spoke with both sides to try prevent a bloodbath in the port city of Hodieda.

Hodeida is a vital lifeline for aid to Yemen's population, but is now under siege from a UAE-backed government force who have made capturing the city a priority.

Griffiths visited Yemen's President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in the southern city of Aden and met the Houthis' chief negotiator Mohammed Abdul-Salam in Sanaa.

He said he expects more talks with the Houthi side to take place within the next few days over the start of negotiations.

Friday was quieter around Hodeida - which has been the scene of fierce fighting since the offensive began a month ago - something that Griffiths put down "to the discussions we have been having with the parties".

But aid groups fear famine could break out in the country if the fighting around Hodeida continues.

The Houthis had recently offered to have the United Nations manage Hodeida's port, pending an "overall cease-fire" in the rebel-held city. This has been accepted by both sides, Griffiths said, adding that the UN role would begin "as soon as the parties" formally agree.

War broke out in Yemen in September 2014, when Houthi rebels overran the capital Sanaa.

The civil war intensified when a Saudi-led coalition intervened on the side of the Hadi government in March 2015, killing thousands of civilians in air strikes since then.

On Friday, thousands gathered in the capital, Sanaa, to protest the Saudi-led coalition's offensive on Hodeida.

War has left around two-thirds of Yemen's population of 27 million relying on aid, and over 8 million at risk of starvation.