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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

UN envoy Martin Griffiths arrives in Sanaa to lay groundwork for peace talks 

Momentum is building for renewed negotiations aimed at ending the war

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths (R) arrives at the Sanaa International Airport, in Sanaa, Yemen, on June 2, 2018. EPA
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths (R) arrives at the Sanaa International Airport, in Sanaa, Yemen, on June 2, 2018. EPA

The UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in Sanaa on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for peace talks in Sweden amid renewed fighting in the port city of Hodeidah.

“Mr Griffiths is scheduled to meet the two sides – the Iranian backed Houthi militias in an attempt to persuade them to begin negotiations in Sweden by next month,” a source close to the envoy told The National.

“This will be a logistical trip to the capital, to move towards finding a solution to the war,” the source said.

Yemen’s government announced that it would take part in the proposed peace talks in Sweden next month, hours after Mohammed Ali Al Houthi, head of the rebels Higher Revolutionary Committee, said that he wanted his group to suspend all military operations and stop firing missiles on Saudi Arabia.

Khalid Al Yamani, Yemen’s Foreign Minister, said the government has informed the UN envoy that it would send a government delegation to the talks with “the aim of reaching a political solution”.

Speaking to the Security Council on Friday, Mr Griffiths said that he received “firm assurances” that the warring parties would attend talks in Sweden.

In New York, the UK presented a draft UN Security Council resolution on Yemen and has called on the warring parties to restart peace negotiations.

“The conflict in Yemen can only be resolved though an inclusive political process,” the draft resolution said.

The draft, circulated by Britain to the 14 other council members, sets a two-week deadline for the two parties to remove all barriers to humanitarian aid, to halt attacks on civilian areas and allow unhindered access to Hodeidah.

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Read more:

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Houthi rebels resume attacks in Hodeidah

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The port has been under rebel control and is a lifeline for food, fuel and humanitarian aid to the suffering population.

Its surrounding area has been the scene of recent attacks and airstrikes, though fighting has eased in recent days.

The proposed resolution increases pressure on both sides, especially the Houthis, to seek a negotiated settlement in Yemen.

The draft also pushed for a large injection of foreign cash to support Yemen’s collapsing currency and for salaries of civil servants, teachers and health workers to be paid within a month.

Yet, multiple attempts to hold negotiations between the government the Houthi rebels have failed.

Mr Griffiths said he hoped the two sides would meet in Sweden within the next few weeks. No date has been set yet.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who toppled the legitimate government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. The Saudi-led coalition allied with the government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.