UN Chief Joins Yemen Peace Talks for Final Day

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to meet Thursday with representatives from Yemen’s warring sides before addressing the closing session…

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13 December 2018, 14:54


Guterres arrived late Wednesday in Sweden in order to join the final day of this round of talks and encourage both sides to keep building on what has been achieved so far.

The Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iranian-supported Houthi rebels have agreed on a huge prisoner swap. Reports say they are close to a deal to reopen Sanaa’s airport, and restart oil and gas exports to help the cash-starved country earn revenue.

But the situation in the rebel-held port of Hodeida is still a major source of contention.

Both sides have rejected a proposal to withdraw fighters and arms from the city and turn it over to a temporary U.N. administration.

At left, Abdelqader al-Murtada and Saelem Mohammed Noman Al-Mughalles, representatives of the Ansar Allah delegation and at right, Askar Zaeil and Hadi al-Hayi representing the delegation of the Government of Yemen at the negotiating table together.
At left, Abdelqader al-Murtada and Saelem Mohammed Noman Al-Mughalles, representatives of the Ansar Allah delegation and at right, Askar Zaeil and Hadi al-Hayi representing the delegation of the Government of Yemen at the negotiating table together.
Nearly all food and humanitarian aid deliveries come through the port and any hindrance in those deliveries threatens to worsen what the United Nations says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemeni forces says the rebels get Iranian arms through the port, a charge Iran denies.

Saudi Arabia began its military intervention in Yemen in 2015 and has been accused by rights groups of being indiscriminate in its airstrikes that have killed civilians. Rights groups fault the Houthis for violations as well.

The U.S. Senate is set to vote Thursday on a measure to end U.S. support to the Saudi military involvement in Yemen.

In addition to opposing strictly the military aspect of the program, many lawmakers are also upset over the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and President Donald Trump’s tepid criticism of the Saudi government.

Trump is unwilling to anger a major U.S. ally like Saudi Arabia. But he told Reuters Tuesday, «I hate to see what’s going on in Yemen. But it takes two to tango. I’d want to see Iran pull out of Yemen.»

Both sides in the peace talks say they plan to meet again early next year.

The fighting between the Houthis and Yemeni forces broke out in 2014, when the rebels seized the capital, Sanaa. More than 10,000 people have been killed.

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