Opposing sides in Yemen conflict discuss key issues in direct talks: UN

Representatives of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and delegates from the administration of resigned President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi have exchanged viewpoints over major political and security issues in direct talks aimed at putting an end to a 14-month-long conflict in the impoverished Arab country.

United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said during the talks in Kuwait City on Thursday, the warring sides also discussed the release of prisoners and detainees.

The delegations, however, traded accusations of violating a ceasefire that took effect on April 11.

“We have learned that ceasefire violations were committed in the past two days and this is a disturbing development,” the UN envoy said.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed further called on those involved in the peace negotiations not to allow the ceasefire violations to influence the talks.

He said a joint UN-sponsored ceasefire monitoring committee is due to look into clashes on the ground and submit detailed reports to the world body.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed speaks during a press conference at the Kuwaiti Information Ministry in Kuwait City on May 5, 2016. ©AFP

Earlier on Thursday, Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, the head of Saudi-backed and pro-Hadi delegation, accused the Ansarullah movement of firing artillery rounds at the southwestern Yemeni city of Ta’izz. He warned that shelling of Ta’izz would “have serious consequences on the peace process” unless the international community shores up the fraying ceasefire.

Ansarullah spokesman Mohammed Abdessalam, however, dismissed the allegations, accusing Saudi-backed forces of bombing residential areas and violating the truce in Ta’izz.

The Saudi-backed representatives suspended their participation in the peace talks on Sunday in protest at Ansarullah’s recent takeover of a military base in Yemen’s northwestern province of Amran.

Yemeni children look at buildings damaged by Saudi airstrikes in the UNESCO-listed old city of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on March 23, 2016. ©AFP

Yemen has seen almost daily military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March 2015, with Yemeni sources putting the toll from the bloody aggression at more than 9,500.

The Houthi Ansarullah fighters took state matters into their own hands after the resignation and escape of Hadi, which threw Yemen into a state of uncertainty and threatened a total security breakdown in the country, where an al-Qaeda affiliate is present.

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