Sana’a: Yemen’s warring parties plan to suspend talks on ending more than a year of conflict after failing to reach a breakthrough, negotiators said Monday.
Two negotiators representing Al Houthi rebels and their allies, and one from the internationally-recognised government, said that the two sides were drafting a joint statement to announce that they will return to talks mid-July, following the holiday of Eid Al Fitr.
One of the negotiators, a minister in the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, says “the return to the talks is meant to save face after reaching a deadlock.”
The announcement came a day after UN chief Ban Ki-moon visited Kuwait, where the two sides have been meeting since April, to encourage them to reach a peace deal. He also called for the release of prisoners, including journalists and other political detainees, as a goodwill gesture ahead of the holiday.
“I ask both delegations to work seriously with my special envoy to agree to a roadmap of principles... and quickly reach a comprehensive agreement,” Ban told a joint meeting of the negotiators.
Ban also urged “the delegations to prevent any further deterioration of the situation, and to show the responsibility and flexibility required to arrive at a comprehensive agreement ending the conflict.”
The government has demanded the implementation of a UN Security Council resolution calling on the rebels to withdraw from all cities, including the capital, Sana’a, and hand over their heavy weapons. Al Houthis want to form a unity government prior to any changes on the ground, according to the negotiators.
The negotiators spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the press.
Ban said the international community wants the conflict to end and Yemen return to the transitional process before the war.
The UN chief also warned the humanitarian situation in Yemen is alarming with scarcity of basic food and the economic conditions have deteriorated.
Ahead of the meeting, Ban held talks with Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, as well as the Gulf country’s prime minister and foreign minister.
The conflict pits Al Houthis and security forces loyal to a former president against the internationally recognised government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition of mainly Arab states. The conflict has killed an estimated 9,000 people and pushed the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.
A truce went into effect a week before the talks began, but the two sides have repeatedly accused each other of breaking it.