Kuwait thanked on Ye­men talks

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE -

PARIS, Dec 6, (Agen­cies): The Spe­cial En­voy of the Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral (SESG) for Ye­men Martin Grif­fiths has ex­pressed grat­i­tude for Swe­den and Kuwait for host­ing and fa­cil­i­tat­ing in­tra-Ye­meni talks.

The spe­cial en­voy ex­tends his ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the Gov­ern­ment of Swe­den for host­ing the po­lit­i­cal con­sul­ta­tions and the Gov­ern­ment of Kuwait for fa­cil­i­tat­ing the travel of the Sana’a del­e­ga­tion to the con­sul­ta­tions, Grif­fiths wrote on his of­fi­cial twit­ter ac­count Wed­nes­day.

The Ye­meni talks kicked off in Stock­holm on Thurs­day.

The Houthi rebels’ del­e­ga­tion to the talks ar­rived in Stock­holm Tues­day on board a plane sent by Kuwait to trans­port them. They were also ac­com­pa­nied by Kuwait’s Am­bas­sador to Ye­men Fa­had Al-Meie.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Ye­men’s war­ring sides sat in the same room for the first time in years on Thurs­day in Swe­den as UN-spon­sored peace talks aimed at halt­ing a cat­a­strophic three-year war opened to great hopes but also high skep­ti­cism. In a pos­i­tive sign, the UN en­voy said the sides had agreed on a prisoner ex­change as a first step to­ward build­ing con­fi­dence.

Martin Grif­fiths also said the two sides have sig­naled they were se­ri­ous about de-es­ca­lat­ing the fight­ing through calls they’ve made in re­cent weeks, and urged them to work to fur­ther re­duce the vi­o­lence in the Arab world’s poor­est nation, scene of mas­sive civil­ians suf­fer­ing.

The talks in the Swedish town of Rimbo, north of Stock­holm, aim to setup “a frame­work for ne­go­ti­a­tions” on a fu­ture peace agree­ment, Grif­fiths said, call­ing the com­ing days were a mile­stone nonethe­less and urg­ing the par­ties “to work in good faith ... to de­liver a mes­sage of peace.”

“I’m also pleased to an­nounce the sign­ing of an agree­ment on the ex­change of pris­on­ers, de­tainees, the miss­ing, the forcibly de­tained and in­di­vid­u­als placed un­der house ar­rest,” Grif­fiths said from the venue. “It will al­low thou­sands of fam­i­lies to be re­united, and it is prod­uct of very ef­fec­tive, ac­tive work from both del­e­ga­tions.”

The fight­ing in Ye­men has gen­er­ated the world’s worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis and claimed at least 10,000 lives, with ex­perts es­ti­mat­ing a much higher toll. The con­flict pits the in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment, which is backed by a Saudi-led coali­tion, against Shi­ite rebels, known as Houthis. Dur­ing the three-year war, Saudi-led airstrikes have hit schools, hos­pi­tals and wed­ding par­ties, and the Houthis have fired lon­grange mis­siles into Saudi Ara­bia and tar­geted ves­sels in the Red Sea.

UN of­fi­cials, how­ever, have sought to down­play ex­pec­ta­tions from the talks, say­ing they don’t ex­pect rapid progress to­ward a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment but hope for at least mi­nor steps that would help to ad­dress Ye­men’s wors­en­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

Ye­meni voices from both sides con­tin­ued to make some last-minute de­mands and ac­cusatory finger-point­ing, while mi­nor fight­ing con­tin­ued to some ex­tent on the ground.

Grif­fiths said the talks would ad­dress sev­eral main points men­tioned by both sides: prisoner ex­change, the re­lease of funds to the cen­tral bank to pay civil ser­vants in rebel-con­trolled ter­ri­tory, a pos­si­ble han­dover of the port city of Hodeida to the UN, and the re­open­ing of the block­aded air­port in the cap­i­tal, Sanaa, to aid de­liv­er­ies.

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