Yemen’s warring parties resume peace talks in Kuwait

Second round of face-to-face talks begins, UN envoy says, as sides seek to end war that has displaced millions.

Delayed Yemeni peace talks convene in Kuwait on 21 April
Houthi rebels and their allies are still in control of the capital [Yahya Arhab/EPA]

Yemen’s warring parties have resumed face-to-face peace talks three days after a walkout by the government delegation, according to the United Nations.

It is only the second round of face-to-face talks in the hard-won negotiations to end a conflict that has killed more than 6,400 people and forced 2.8 million from their homes since March last year.

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“The joint work session has started to follow up with the agreed agenda,”  Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN Special Envoy for Yemen, said on Twitter on Wednesday.

The negotiations, which began on April 21, broke up on Sunday after the government delegation quit in protest at the apparent surrender of one of the few loyalist bases in the northern mountains to Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the two sides had agreed that a monitoring committee supervising a ceasefire would launch a fact-finding mission into the takeover of the al-Amaliqa base in Amran province.

The committee will submit a report within 72 hours with practical recommendations that all sides pledge to carry out, Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.

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Foreign Minister Abdulmalik al-Mekhlafi, who heads the government delegation, has demanded a rebel pull-out.

The UN stressed the need to strengthen ceasefire monitoring committees on the ground, particularly in and around battleground third city Taiz, where loyalist troops have been under siege for months, trapping tens of thousands of civilians. 

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW), which has been deeply critical of alleged violations of the rules of war by the government and its supporters in a Saudi-led military coalition as well as the rebels and their allies, called for justice for the victims from the UN-brokered talks.

It urged the warring parties to “support international investigations, transitional justice and victim compensation as key elements of any agreement”.

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The Houthi rebels and their allies are still in control of the capital, as well as much of the northern and central mountains and Red Sea coast.

The UN says that most of the civilians killed in the conflict in the past 14 months have died in Saudi-led bombing raids.

HRW has accused the coalition of carrying out “indiscriminate air strikes” against civilian areas, and the rebels of committing “various abuses”.

Source: News Agencies