Yemen Peace Talks Begin in Geneva in Switzerland

Yemen Peace Talks Begin in Geneva in Switzerland
Tue Dec 15, 2015 17:23:53

Peace talks on Yemen have begun in Switzerland in a bid to end more than nine months of bloodshed in the country as a highly-anticipated ceasefire begins to take effect.

UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi on Tuesday confirmed that the talks had begun at an undisclosed location in Switzerland. Later reports said, however, that negotiations are underway in Magglingen, northern Switzerland.

“The UN-sponsored consultations aimed at finding a durable settlement to the Yemen crisis started today in Switzerland,” Fawzi told reporters, adding that 18-member delegations representing the Houthi Ansarullah movement and Yemen’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuah Mansour Hadi, are attending the negotiations.

Fawzi said the main objective of the talks would be to “establish a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, secure improvements to the humanitarian situation and a return to a peaceful and orderly political transition.”

Saudi Arabia confirmed earlier in the day that the previously proposed truce started on Tuesday. However, Houthis, who had earlier approved the proposal for holding the ceasefire on the eve of the UN talks, have yet to comment on the establishment of the truce.

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said the talks in Switzerland “should mark the end of military violence in Yemen,” hailing the lull in the fighting as a critical first step toward building a lasting peace.

“Making peace is a fundamental requirement to rebuild Yemen, rehabilitate the basic infrastructure, address the consequences of the war, provide the necessary environment to normalize life in all governorates, and resume economic activity,” Ould said in a statement.

The World Health Organization also issued a statement expressing optimism that the truce would allow for deliveries of needed medical aid into the war-torn country. Ahmed Shadoul, the chief of the WHO mission for Yemen, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that both the Houthis and Saudi Arabia had confirmed permissions for “unconditional movement of supplies, personnel and teams to all parts of the country.”

Security officials in Yemen said Tuesday that Saudi Arabia intensified attacks on various parts of Yemen in a bid to solidify position in the talks. They said Saudis and supporters of Hadi managed to seize control of the Red Sea island of Zuqar from the Houthis. Other reports said the Houthis hit back by shelling positions of the militants around the southern city of Ta’izz.

The UN estimates show that more than 5,700 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi campaign began on March 26. Yemeni sources, however, say Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes against the poor nation have left close to 8,000 people dead; Press TV reported.

S/SH

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