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UN Yemen envoy in new bid for peace

Ould Shaikh Ahmad said he was heading to Riyadh and Kuwait “to prepare for a new round” of talks

Image Credit: Reuters
Boys climb on a tank used by pro-government fighters during recent battles against Al Houthi fighters in Taiz on Saturday.
Gulf News

Muscat: The UN envoy for Yemen announced a new bid for peace talks between the government and rebels, after the latest ceasefire failed to bring an end the 20-month conflict.

Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad said he was heading to Riyadh and Kuwait “to prepare for a new round” of talks, as he left Muscat late Saturday after discussions with representative of Yemen’s Al Houthi rebels and their allies.

Riyadh has been the base of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi since the rebels forced him to flee his country in March 2015 and prompting Saudi Arabia to lead an Arab coalition in a military campaign against the insurgents.

Hadi flew into Aden on Saturday in a surprise visit to the southern port city serving as Yemen’s temporary capital since coalition-backed Yemeni forces recaptured it from the rebels.

“I am ready to visit President Hadi in Aden if need be,” Ould Shaikh Ahmad said in a statement carried by Oman’s official ONA news agency.

The UN envoy said he found “a lot of seriousness” in talks with representatives of Al Houthis and their allies from the party of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

He also said he had been in contact with US Secretary of State John Kerry who “sees a historic chance to achieve peace in Yemen”.

A previous round of peace talks held in Kuwait collapsed in August.

A 48-hour ceasefire declared by the coalition ended Monday with little success in reducing violence in the war-torn country.

Both parties traded blame for the numerous violations of the truce that came into effect on Saturday after Kerry intervened.

It was the latest international attempt to end Yemen’s conflict, which the United Nations says has killed more than 7,000 people and wounded nearly 37,000 since March last year.

Iran-backed Al Houthis overran the capital Sana’a and other parts of the impoverished country in September 2014.