Yemeni rebels agree to take part in peace talks

Yemeni rebels agree to take part in peace talks

SANAA: Yemen peace talks are to start on Thursday in Kuwait, the United Nations said, after rebels agreed to join the delayed negotiations following assurances pro-government forces would respect a ceasefire.

“The Yemeni peace negotiations will start tomorrow in Kuwait under the auspices of the United Nations,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said from New York.

A delegation of rebels left Yemen’s capital on Wednesday to join the talks saying the United Nations had assured them over the ceasefire.

Representatives of the Houthi rebels and their allies boarded an Omani plane bound for Kuwait via Muscat, said a Sanaa airport official.

The UN-brokered talks had been set to open in Kuwait on Monday but were put off after the Iran-backed insurgents failed to show up over alleged Saudi violations of the ceasefire, which took effect on April 11.

The Yemeni government delegation which arrived in Kuwait at the weekend, had threatened to pull out if the talks did not start on Thursday morning.

The delegation, in a statement, also accused the Houthi rebels of violating the ceasefire in many areas.

The talks are the most important attempt yet to resolve Yemen’s devastating conflict, which the United Nations says has killed more than 6,400 people and forced almost 2.8 million forced from their homes.

A Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes in Yemen 13 months ago after the rebels, who had seized control of Sanaa in 2014, advanced in other parts of the country.The rebels’ Al-Masirah television quoted Houthi representative Saleh al-Sammad as saying they agreed to join the talks after receiving assurances from the UN envoy and ambassadors that loyalists would respect the ceasefire.

A Western diplomat in Kuwait said representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council sent a message to the rebels saying they “understand their fears” and urging them to “quickly join” the talks.

The rebels had been assured the agenda for the talks would be “clear and tackle issues that could help achieve peaceful solutions,” said Mahdi al-Mashat, a representative of rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi.


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