Pris­oner-swap agree­ment

Weekend Herald - - World -

Yemen’s war­ring sides have agreed to a broad pris­oner swap, sit­ting down in the same room to­gether for the first time in years at United Na­tions-spon­sored peace talks in Swe­den.

Hopes were high that the talks wouldn’t de­te­ri­o­rate into fur­ther vi­o­lence as in the past, and that the pris­oner ex­change would be an im­por­tant first step to­ward build­ing con­fi­dence be­tween highly dis­trust­ful ad­ver­saries.

The con­flict pits the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised Govern­ment, which is backed by a Saudi-led coali­tion, against Shia rebels known as Houthis.

UN en­voy Martin Grif­fiths said the two sides have sig­nalled they are 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.

“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.”

The in­ter­na­tional Red Cross said it would over­see the pris­oner ex­change, which is ex­pected to take weeks.

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