UN envoy moves to revive Yemen talks

UNITED NATIONS, United States, Sept 12, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The UN envoy for Yemen said Tuesday he will seek to revive talks between the Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebels after a first bid for negotiations on ending the war failed to get off the ground.

Meetings aimed at preparing formal peace talks were to begin last week in Geneva, but the Huthis refused to leave Sanaa to attend the consultations until a series of demands were met.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council he will be traveling to Muscat on Wednesday and later Sanaa and Riyadh to secure “a firm commitment from the parties to convene for continued consultations.”

The Huthis failed to turn up at the talks in Geneva over demands linked to the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman and safe passage for the return of the rebel delegation to Sanaa.

The Yemen peace process will have “ups and downs,” Griffiths told a council meeting, downplaying the setback as “temporary obstacles.”

He asked the council to support his new shuttle diplomacy to “move back to the table with all speed.”

It was the first UN bid to convene talks between the warring sides since 2016.

The council “expressed regret” that the Huthis did not attend the talks in Geneva and urged all sides to “engage in future consultations in good faith,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who holds the council presidency, told reporters after the meeting.

The war in impoverished Yemen has killed 10,000 people and unleashed what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Huthi rebels in Yemen since 2015 to drive them out of the capital Sanaa and return President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

The coalition has come under pressure to seek a political settlement from Britain, France and the United States, which are increasingly ill at ease with the heavy toll that the bombing campaign has had on civilians.