Delayed Yemen peace talks start in Kuwait

Talks to end war based on UN resolution which calls for Houthi rebels to withdraw and hand over weapons to government.

    Delayed Yemen peace talks start in Kuwait
    The Yemen conflict has left more than 2.5 million people displaced [Reuters]

    Talks aimed at ending Yemen's war have opened in Kuwait, with the Arab Gulf state's top diplomat appealing to both sides to "turn war into peace".

    A year of conflict has left more than 6,200 people dead and caused a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

    Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid Al Sabah, Kuwait's foreign minister, in an opening speech at Bayan Palace, urged Yemenis to "turn war into peace and backwardness into development".

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    The talks are based on UN Security Council resolution 2216 which calls for the Houthi fighters to withdraw from areas they seized since 2014 and hand heavy weapons back to the government, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN special envoy to Yemen, said.

    The delayed peace talks - initially planned to start on Monday - began on Thursday and continued on Friday in Kuwait, with Philip Hammond, Britain's foreign secretary, welcoming the UN-backed negotiations, saying that "only a political solution can bring an end to the conflict".

    "I urge all those around the table to come together to find a way to end the conflict, address the humanitarian situation and allow the return of Yemen's legitimate government," Hammond said.

    The Houthis have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since September 2014 and their advance saw a US-backed Arab military coalition launch air strikes 13 months ago.

    Regional implications

    Air strikes account for 60 percent of the civilians killed in the conflict, according to a January 26 UN report.

    The UN has criticised coalition strikes that have hit markets, clinics and hospitals.

    The war has taken on regional implications, as Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia accuses regional Shia rival Iran of arming and training the Houthis.

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    Iran says it only provides the rebels with political support, though the US Navy says its sailors and allies have seized weapons heading for Yemen from Iran.

    The Houthis themselves have tried to distance themselves from Iran as well.

    Brigadier-General Ahmed Asseri, the Arab coalition spokesman, told Al Arabiya television that "everybody knows that the way out in the end is political, and the issue will not end through military means, and the coalition has no desire to ... prolong the situation".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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