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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 January 2019

UN head expected in Sweden to participate in Yemen talks

Antonio Guterres will discuss ways of ending the war

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will arrive in Sweden for peace talks on Wednesday. EPA
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will arrive in Sweden for peace talks on Wednesday. EPA

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to attend peace talks between Yemen’s warring sides in Sweden on Thursday.

Mr Guterres will meet both parties in rural town Rimbo, north of Stockholm, to discuss ways of ending the Yemeni crisis, sources close to the government delegation told The National on Tuesday evening.

The international organisation has brought together the two sides for the first time since 2016.

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The development comes as UN-led talks entered their sixth day on Tuesday. The consultations have so far sidestepped discussions on a political transition, focusing instead on a prisoner swap, the reopening of Sanaa airport and securing UN administration of strategic Red Sea port Hodeidah.

Last week, Mr Guterres called on the Yemeni government and rebels to de-escalate violence around the city of Hodeidah, through which 90 per cent of food imports and three quarters of humanitarian aid reach Yemen, where the UN says close to 75 per cent of the population will need humanitarian assistance in 2019.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths told reporters on Monday that “tangible agreements will be announced by the end of this round”.

So far, Mr Griffiths and his team of experts have shuttled between the two parties.

Representatives from the Yemeni government delegation, right, and those from the Houthi rebels, pose for a photo with representatives the UN Special Envoy for Yemen and the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC). The ICRC is expected to implement the prisoner exchange. AFP Photo
Representatives from the Yemeni government delegation, right, and the Houthi rebels, pose for a photo with negotiators. AFP

Consultations are expected to last until Thursday, with both sides under pressure to agree on confidence-building measures that will allow formal peace negotiations to resume.

Another round of talks between Yemen’s two sides is expected to resume again in early 2019, according to UN sources.

The war has claimed more than 10,000 lives since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the UAE, joined the government’s battle against the Iranian-backed rebels.

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Read more: Accounts of prison torture forces Houthi leader to investigate

Updated: December 12, 2018 03:19 PM

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