‘Hope­ful start’ made to Ye­men peace talks

The Mercury - - WORLD -

YE­MEN’S war­ring sides agreed to free thou­sands of pris­on­ers yes­ter­day in what a UN me­di­a­tor called a hope­ful start to the first peace talks in years to end a war that has pushed mil­lions of peo­ple to the verge of star­va­tion.

UN me­di­a­tor Mar­tin Grif­fiths told a news con­fer­ence out­side Stock­holm that just get­ting the war­ring sides to the ta­ble was an im­por­tant mile­stone.

The war has killed tens of thou­sands of peo­ple and spawned what the UN calls the world’s direst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, since a Saudi-led Arab coali­tion in­ter­vened in 2015 to re­store a gov­ern­ment ousted by the Iran-aligned Houthi move­ment.

No talks have been held since 2016, and the last at­tempt in Geneva in Septem­ber failed when the Houthis did not at­tend.

Grif­fiths said the pris­oner swop agreed to at the start of the talks would re­unite thou­sands of fam­i­lies. The In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross said at least 5 000 pris­on­ers would be freed.

The war, widely seen across the re­gion as a proxy con­flict be­tween

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