February 19, 2019

United Nations plane to evacuate wounded Yemen rebels ahead of peace talks

08 December 2018, 08:51 | Devin Moran

Sweden talks critical opportunity for Yemen peace

Yemen peace talks in Sweden a ‘vital first step’ says Washington

Iran offered support on Monday to the planned UN-brokered peace talks on Yemen, calling for an end to "the brutal aggression" on the country.

One representative of the internationally recognised government, Abdullah al-Alimi, tweeted that the talks were "a true opportunity for peace", before the delegation flew out of the Saudi capital Riyadh on Wednesday.

The UN is trying to persuade the Houthis insurgents and the Saudi-backed government to sit down at the negotiating table this month.

Global outrage over the October 2 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate has refocused attention on the Yemen war and scrutiny over Saudi Arabia's activities in the region.

The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

"The situation here does not make us optimistic that we will avoid war", said 51-year-old government employee Mohammed Taher.

The Houthi delegation has arrived to Sweden together with Special Envoys from UN, Sweden and Kuwait for planned consultations on Yemen.

Prospects for convening talks have risen as Western allies press Saudi Arabia, leader of the alliance battling the Iranian-aligned Houthis, over a war that has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation.

Residents in the port of Hodeidah, now a focus of the war, were fearful of renewed fighting if the talks failed as each side fortified their positions in the Houthi-held Red Sea city after a period of reduced hostilities.

The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, widely regarded as having been ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, has also increased support for cutting ties with the Kingdom.

The rebels also accused the world body of failing to secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman, a relatively neutral party in the Yemen war.

"Tehran is ready to help worldwide talks to end the crisis and underlines the importance of accelerating providing humanitarian aid to the people", Iran's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Al Arabiya news channel correspondent revealed on Monday that the Yemeni government delegation headed by Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khaled al-Yamani will leave for Sweden on Wednesday (December 5) after confirming the arrival of the Houthis.

Saudi Arabia and its allies, who back Yemen's embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, had agreed the 50 wounded combatants, 50 escorts and a team of Yemeni and United Nations doctors could be flown out to Muscat - a condition set by the Houthis for negotiations.

"A stable state, important for the region, can not coexist with unlawful militias", he said.

The resolution demands that the rebels recognise the legitimacy of Hadi's government and withdraw from all towns and cities they had taken, including Sanaa.

"Tehran is ready to help worldwide talks to end the crisis and underlines the importance of accelerating providing humanitarian aid to the people", Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters.

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