Direct Yemen peace talks resume in Kuwait

Yemen’s warring parties are to resume face-to-face peace talks on Wednesday after a three-day break triggered by a walkout by the government delegation, the United Nations said.

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Kuwait City // Yemen’s warring parties resumed face-to-face peace talks on Wednesday after a three-day break triggered by a Houthi rebel ceasefire breach.

It is only the second round of direct talks in the hard-won negotiations to end the conflict that has killed more than 6,400 people and displaced 2.8 million since March last year.

The negotiations, which began on April 21, broke off on Sunday after the government delegation quit in protest against the Iran-backed rebels’ capture of one of the few loyalist bases in the northern mountains.

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the two sides had agreed that a monitoring committee supervising an April 11 ceasefire would launch a fact-finding mission into the takeover of the Al Amaliqa base in Amran province, one of their strongholds.

Abdulmalek Al Mikhlafi, the Yemeni foreign minister who heads the government delegation, has demanded a rebel pullout.

The United Nations stressed the need to strengthen ceasefire monitoring committees on the ground, particularly in and around Yemen’s third city Taez, where loyalist troops have been under siege for months, trapping tens of thousands of civilians.

A Saudi-led military intervention in support of the government launched in March last year drove the rebels from much of southern Yemen but they still control the capital, Sanaa, as well as much of the northern and central mountains and Red Sea coast.

Meanwhile Yemeni troops, backed by the coalition which includes the UAE, have turned their attention to extremist groups seeking to take advantage of the conflict in the south.

Al Qaeda in Yemen threatened on Wednesday to target the homes of officers and soldiers who took part in a government offensive in recent weeks that drove militants out of key areas including provincial capital Mukalla.

But militants in Zinjibar appear to have agreed to leave the Abyan provincial capital following tribal mediation to spare the city destruction, said the region’s security chief Colonel Nasser Hadi.

*Agence France-Presse