Dubai: Talks to end months of fighting in Yemen will convene in Geneva at the end of October under the sponsorship of the United Nations, the UN special envoy for the issue announced, urging the parties to try to make the negotiations a success.
Previous UN-sponsored talks between the Yemeni government and Yemen’s Al Houthi militant group failed in June, mainly because of differences over implementing a UN Security Council resolution calling for the Iran-backed group to withdraw from cities they seized over the past year.
The UN special envoy to Yemen, Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad, wrote on his Facebook page late on Sunday that, after talks with President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Saudi Arabia, he had managed to persuade all the parties to attend a new round of talks in Geneva at the end of this month.
“While offering thanks to all parties, the United Nations calls for more flexibility, for opportunities may not be conducive after this time,” he added.
Ould Shaikh Ahmad concluded a three-day visit to the region on Monday, where he met Yemeni President Hadi, who is in exile in Saudi Arabia, and other Yemeni officials, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
The Yemeni government said on Sunday it had agreed to attend talks after Al Houthis formally committed to implementing UN
Security Council Resolution 2216. Al Houthis have previously said they would attend, but they have not commented since the Yemeni government announcement.
Al Houthis wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this month to tell him they accepted the Security Council resolution. That resolution called on all sides, including Al Houthis, to end the violence and avoid unilateral action that would jeopardise the country’s political transition.
UN diplomatic sources said Ould Shaikh Ahmad had delivered a letter last week from Ban to Hadi, reiterating that Al Houthis had repeatedly confirmed their commitment to the resolution and urging Hadi to talk with them.
“Based on this commitment, I trust that you will now be in a position to authorise your government’s participation in a new round of consultations with Al Houthis and their allies,” he added.
The Yemeni government-run news agency sabanew.net cited an official in Hadi’s office as saying that the president had sent a letter to Ban on Monday that included the “readiness of the Yemeni government to participate in the talks with the coup factions ... especially after affirming its commitment to the United Nations and its Special Envoy with implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2216 without condition”.
At least 5,400 people have been killed in the fighting in the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, and the United Nations says the humanitarian situation is “critical”.
Saudi Arabia has been leading an Arab military intervention since March to try to restore Hadi’s government, now based in Aden, and fend off what it sees as creeping Iranian influence.
The Saudi foreign ministry commended Hadi’s stand on the talks and welcomed the Houthi decision to honour UN Security Council Resolution 2216.
“It is considered a step in the right direction to solving the Yemeni crisis,” the ministry said in a statement attributed to a responsible source.