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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Gargash praises UN envoy efforts on Yemen peace talks 

The UN-led discussions in Geneva are the first talks in over two years

Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Cabinet Member and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Reem Mohammed / The National.
Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Cabinet Member and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Reem Mohammed / The National.

The UN-led peace process is the only way to alleviate the suffering Yemen has experienced since Houthi rebels seized large parts of the country, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Monday.

The minister praised the UN’s special envoy Martin Griffiths for his work on bringing all sides together for peace talks, set to take place in Geneva this week.

“Yemen’s suffering following the Houthi coup can only end through a UN-led political process,” Dr Gargash said in a tweet. “The UAE, as part of Arab Coalition, welcomes peace talks which start in Geneva Thursday. We urge all Yemeni parties to engage constructively with the UN process.”

The main sides in the conflict will gather in Geneva on Thursday for the first UN-led peace talks in two years, although experts expect that little major development will be achieved other than to agree to further discussions. Mr Griffiths will act as the intermediary between the internationally recognised government of Yemen and representatives of the Houthi rebel group, as the rivals are unlikely to engage in face-to-face talks.

“UN envoy Martin Griffiths deserves special praise. His enthusiasm & drive made these talks possible. Coalition’s use of legitimate military force always intended to support political solution & UNSCR 2216. Long way to go. But Geneva can bring outcome nearer,” Dr Gargash said in a subsequent tweet.

UN Security Council resolution 2216 imposed sanctions on persons it said was undermining the stability of Yemen and demanded all parties – with particular focus on Houthi rebels – “immediately and unconditionally end violence”. It also demanded the Iran-backed rebels cease action that threatened the stability and safety of neighbouring states.

Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile from Yemen’s northern Saada Governorate towards Saudi Arabia Monday evening. The projectile was intercepted by coalition air defense units and no injuries were reported.

Col Turki Al Malki said that the Coalition Air Defence detected the launch of the ballistic missile, which was fired "deliberately" by the terrorist Houthi militias towards a densely populated civilian area in the Saudi city of Jizan.

"This hostile act carried out by the terrorist Iranian Houthi militia proves that the Iranian regime continues to provide the Houthi militias with advanced weapons capabilities, in flagrant defiance of UNSC Resolutions 2216 and 2231, with the main objective of threatening Saudi Arabian, regional and international security", he said.

Mr Al Malki reiterated that the launch of ballistic missiles towards civilian populated areas is a direct breach of the principles of the international humanitarian law.

The Yemen discussions on Thursday will primarily focus on the Houthi-held port city of Hodeidah, the disarming of all non-government forces and the release of prisoners on both sides, a government official told The National in late August.

Houthi rebels have asked for political recognition and control over some areas of the country, the official said.

A UN proposal on Hodeidah, a major port, would hand the Red Sea harbour over to the UN and put the city under the control of Yemeni government forces.

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Read more:

Yemen peace talks in Geneva will be start of a long process

UN report on Yemen requires review: UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

Arab coalition expresses regret for 'mistakes' in Yemen strike

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Meanwhile, on the ground in Yemen the Saudi-led coalition killed 38 Houthi rebels in airstrikes around Hodeidah in the 24 hours to Monday evening, military and medical sources said.

Pro-government military sources said the coalition forces targeted Houthi sites, including a roundabout in the south that leads to the centre of Hodeida city and near a naval academy to the west.

Four military vehicles belonging to the rebels were also targeted near Hodeida's airport.

Medical sources in Hodeida said 38 Houthi rebel fighters were killed and 26 were wounded.

Hodeida's port serves as an entry point for some 70 percent of imports into the country.

The Red Sea port has been controlled by the rebels since 2014, when they drove the government out of Sanaa and much of the country.

The government and the coalition accuse the Huthis of receiving smuggled weapons through Hodeida and have demanded their unconditional withdrawal from the city.

Pro-government forces backed by the alliance have paused their assault on Hodeida port after launching an offensive in June in what they say is a bid to give UN-led peace efforts a chance.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other allies intervened in the conflict between Yemen's government and rebels in March 2015 with the aim of pushing back the Houthi militants and returning the government to power.