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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Yemen foreign minister expresses support for UN process 

Khaled Al Yamani says he will support the UN envoy, but the ball is in the Houthis’ court.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (R) meets with Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. AFP
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (R) meets with Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. AFP

Khaled Al Yamani, the Foreign Minister of Yemen, will continue to support the UN’s push for confidence-building measures with the Houthis, despite some calling for the resumption of the Kuwaiti peace agenda established in 2016.

Mr Al Yamani told The National that the Yemeni government would continue to support the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, but said the ball was in the Houthis’ court.

“It takes two to tango,” he said. “We cannot talk in a sole song without having a responsible partner on the other side. Now the responsibility is up to them.”

Mr Al Yamani said Mr Griffiths believed that the Houthis were still not ready to accept “the full package settlement”, so he was working on making small steps between the two sides.

“He started with trust-building measures, small achievements, and he believes these achievements would create a positive environment where we can go into more aggressive issues,” he said of Mr Griffiths.

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But Mr Al Yamani said if he could not bring the Houthis to the table, “then there will be no talks and nothing to think about. He knows the challenging point of his mandate”.

Some officials in the GCC told The National that returning to the start would be difficult and that Mr Griffiths might be better off picking up where they left off in Kuwait in 2016.

Three months of talks there broke down and ended in fighting between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels.

“Many question why we are going back to square one, into confidence-building measures,” Mr Al Yamani said. “Why don’t we try to finalise what we did in Kuwait?

“But Martin Griffiths is convinced the Houthis aren’t ready for the full-package settlement.”

On Thursday, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt hosted a meeting with the US, Saudi Arabian and Emirati ministers to discuss a political solution to the war in Yemen.

Mr Hunt urged those present, who included the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, and Saudi Arabia’s Adel Al Jubeir, to seize the chance for political progress.

“The group underlined their complete support for the UN process led by special envoy Martin Griffiths,” a statement on the British government’s website said. “In the context of a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, the members discussed how they could provide greater assistance to the Yemeni people by facilitating the entry of humanitarian and commercial goods into Yemen.”

Mr Griffiths is working on bringing the two sides to the table in a meeting expected to take place this year.

The foreign ministers also discussed the destabilising effect of Iran on Yemen and the wider region.