Geneva: UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said he is still working on getting an Al Houthi delegation to Geneva for consultations on the Yemen crisis.
The delay could lead to the collapse of the much-awaited talks, with the government team warning they would not wait for the militiamen. Two sources in the government delegation told Reuters on Thursday they had given the international envoy additional time till noon on Friday, to persuade Al Houthis to come to Geneva.
Griffiths is continuing his discussions with the Yemeni government delegation headed by Foreign Minister Khalid Al Yamani.
Since Thursday, he has been discussing confidence-building measures with them, including the issue of prisoners, humanitarian access and the re-opening of Sana’a airport, in addition to some economic issues.
Al Houthis refused to attend the talks unless the UN met a list of conditions, including transporting wounded militiamen to Oman for treatment, and a guarantee that their own delegation would be allowed to return
home. The Saudi-led coalition said it had permitted an Al Houthi plane to take off from the militia-held capital Sana’a, but Al Houthis reacted “recalcitrantly”.
Hamza Al Kamali, Yemeni Deputy Minister for Youth, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday the flight clearance had been given three days earlier.
Meanwhile, Saudi air defences intercepted a ballistic missile launched by the Iran-aligned Al Houthis towards the country, the coalition said in a statement. No injuries or casualties were reported.
Al Maliki said the ballistic missile was fired from the Yemeni governorate of Sa’ada by Al Houthi militia deliberately towards a densely populated civilian area in the Saudi city of Jazan.
“This hostile act, carried out by the terrorist Iranian Al Houthi militia proves the Iranian regime continues to provide the rebels with advanced weapons capabilities, in flagrant defiance of UNSC Resolutions 2216 and 2231, with the main objective of threatening Saudi, regional and international security,” he said.
Al Maliki reiterated the launch of missiles towards civilian populated areas is a direct breach of international humanitarian law.
He said Al Houthis had so far launched 190 ballistic missiles towards Saudi Arabia, leaving 112 Saudi nationals and residents dead since the Al Houthi coup in Yemen in 2014.
In March 2015, the coalition — led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE — intervened in Yemen at a request from the government against Al Houthis after the militants advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital of the country after their takeover of Sana’a.
In recent months, Al Houthis have intensified firing missiles into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.