‘Swe­den talks cru­cial for Ye­men peace’

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD -

PRO­POSED UN-led talks in Swe­den mark a “crit­i­cal op­por­tu­nity” to bring peace to wartorn Ye­men af­ter four years of con­flict, a top Emi­rati of­fi­cial said on Tues­day.

T he com­ments f rom t he United Arab Emi­rates, which is part of the pro-gov­ern­ment c oa l it ion f ig ht i ng Hout h i rebels in Ye­men, come as UN en­voy Martin Grif f it hs is in t he rebel-held capita l Sanaa seek ing to push for ward the planned ta lks.

“E v a c u a t i n g w o u n d e d Houthi fight­ers from Sanaa once again demon­strates the Ye­meni gov­ern­ment & the Arab coali­tion’s sup­port for peace,” the UAE’s state min­is­ter for for­eign af­fairs, An­war Gar­gash, said in a tweet.

Fifty wounded rebels left on a UN-char­tered plane on Mon­day for neu­tral Oman to be treated, in what was termed “a con­fi­dence-build­ing” mea­sure ahead of any talks.

The con­flict, which erupted in late 2014, has brought the im­pov­er­ished coun­try to brink of famine, and the UN has de­scribed Ye­men as the world’s worst hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter.

Nearly 10,000 peo­ple are said to have been killed since the Saudi-led pro-gov­ern­ment coali­tion in­ter­vened in the con­flict in early 2015, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Hu­man rights groups fear the ac­tual toll is far higher.

No date has yet been set for the talks, which are due to be held in Swe­den, but hopes have been build­ing that they could go ahead this week.

“We be­lieve Swe­den of­fers a crit­i­cal op­por­tu­nity to suc­cess­fully en­gage in a po­lit­i­cal solution for Ye­men,” Gar­gash said in his tweet.

He added that “a sus­tain­able Ye­meni-led po­lit­i­cal solution of­fers the best chance to end­ing the cur­rent cri­sis.”

UN en­voy Grif­fiths on Mon­day said on Twit­ter that he was “pleased to con­firm” 50 in­jured Ye­me­nis were to be treated on neu­tral ground in Mus­cat and “urged all Ye­me­nis to work to­gether in pur­suit of peace and sta­bil­ity”.

The evac­uat ion marked a key step in kick­start­ing stalled ne­go­ti­a­tions as world powers press for an end to the dev­a­s­tat ing conf lict.

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 UN doc­tors could be flown out to Mus­cat – a con­di­tion set by the Houthis for ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The Houthis have also called for guar­an­tees for their safet y if t hey leave t he countr y – a key con­di­tion which led to the c ol l a p s e of e a r l i e r t a l k s pla n ned for Septem­ber i n Geneva.

Kuwa it ’s Deput y For­eig n Min­is­ter Kha led a l-Ja ra l la h told re­porters t hat a Houthi del­e­gat ion was now set to leave Sanaa for Stock holm on Tues­day mor n i ng to­get her with his countr y’s am­bas­sador to Ye­men.

The oil-rich Gulf emi­rate, which has been a me­di­a­tor in the dev­as­tat­ing con­flict, hosted Swedish For­eign Min­is­ter Mar­got Wall­strom for talks in Kuwait City on Mon­day.

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