Yemen's Warring Sides Agree to Make Ceasefire: Source

Yemen's Warring Sides Agree to Make Ceasefire: Source
Sat Dec 19, 2015 21:50:30

Negotiators taking part in Yemen peace talks in Switzerland have agreed to create a "neutral" committee to monitor the country's fragile ceasefire, a source close to the talks told AFP.

"There is an understanding over forming a neutral military committee tasked with monitoring the ceasefire," a source close to the former fugitive Yemeni President said.

The development came after the ceasefire, which took effect on Tuesday and was supposed to last a week, all but collapsed Friday as Saudi led forces seized two towns from Huthis and accused them of escalating the conflict by firing ballistic missiles.

UN special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed had on Friday voiced alarm at the widespread ceasefire violations.

"His office said the negotiating parties in Switzerland had created a coordination and de-escalation committee ... to strengthen adherence to the cessation of hostilities."

The negotiators met at a hotel in the northwestern Swiss city of Biel for a fifth day of talks Saturday as they scramble to end the spiraling conflict, which has killed more than 5,800 people since March.
   
But sources close to both delegations told AFP Saturday afternoon that the talks had ended for the day with little progress.

A source close to the delegation representing the former fugitive Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government said there had been no agreement on the general framework for the talks and no agreement on the opening of humanitarian corridors.

On Thursday, the UN had said that the two sides had agreed to "a full and immediate resumption of humanitarian assistance" in the flashpoint city of Taez in what the UN envoy had called "a major step forward".

But a local relief group, the Humanitarian Relief Coalition, said no UN aid had reached the city, accusing Huthis of blocking aid delivery to areas where Hadi loyalists were holed up.

In a letter submitted by the former fugitive Yemeni President delegation to the talks Saturday a lawyer in Taez accused the Huthis of confiscating aid sent by the UN World Food Program.

In another move that had been seen as promising, the Saudi-led forces and Huthis completed an exchange of hundreds of prisoners in the southern province of Lahj on Thursday.

But the former Yemeni President source told AFP the sides on Saturday had failed to agree any further such moves.

"There has been no progress in the detainees issue," he said.

Yemen's conflict began in September 2014, and it has escalated dramatically since Saudi-led air strikes against the Huthis began in March, with more than 5,800 killed and more than 27,000 wounded since then, according to the UN.

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