UN: YEMEN PEACE TALKS TO START IN DEC. 15 IN SWITZERLAND

Photo: Anadolu Agency
Photo: Anadolu Agency

Geneva, 26 Shafar 1437/8 December (MINA) –  Yemen peace talks will start in Switzerland on Dec. 15 to reach a permanent cease-fire and an end to the nine-month conflict in the country, the United Nations envoy in Yemen said Monday.

The UN will convene a series of face-to-face consultations to seek to establish a permanent cease-fire, improve the humanitarian situation and return to a political transition, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a press conference in Geneva, Anadolu Agency reports as quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).

“Both the government of Yemen and the Houthis and other relevant parties have committed to participate in the talks,” Ahmed said.

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There are number of good signs for a possible cease-fire agreement on Dec. 15, Ahmed said.

“I also urge all parties to respect a full cessation of hostilities, effective Dec. 15, in order to create a conducive environment for the talks and give Yemenis respite from the violence of recent months,” the special envoy said.

The talks will last as long as it takes, Ahmed said.

“Only a political solution will end the crisis in Yemen,” said Ahmed. “We strongly believe that the only way to end the suffering of the Yemeni people and to rebuild confidence, trust, and mutual respect is through peaceful and inclusive dialogue.”

The U.S. State Department welcomed the announcement of the talks while urging all parties to attend “in good faith and without preconditions”.

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“It is critical that parties return to the negotiating table as soon as possible to end the fighting and agree on a path forward that will end the suffering of the Yemeni people,” according spokesman John Kirby.

He also urged all parties to allow the entry of food, medicine and other relief items to help ease the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country

Yemen descended into chaos last September, when the Houthis overran capital Sanaa. In April, the Shia militia also managed to capture Yemen’s southern Aden province, from which President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi – along with most of his government – was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia.

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Yemeni civilians have been caught up in fighting since March 26, when Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched an air campaign against the Shia Houthi militant group in Yemen.

Previous peace talks held in Geneva in June 2015 failed to result in a cease-fire agreement.

More than 2.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes and 21.2 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid and the UN has asked $1.6 billion for 13.2 million most vulnerable people in Yemen for 2016. (T/P010/R04)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)