Peace talk preparation: Former Yemeni President, UN Envoy meet in Sanaa

Published July 14th, 2016 - 02:30 GMT
Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. (AFP/File)
Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. (AFP/File)

The former Yemeni president backing Houthi rebels and the UN envoy to Yemen met in the capital Sanaa on Thursday ahead of the second round of peace talks between the rebels and Yemeni government scheduled in Kuwait for Friday.

Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) tweeted that Saleh and the head of their Kuwait delegation Arif al-Zouka met the UN's Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. It was the first time since March that Saleh met with a UN representative.

According to the statement, Saleh said his party was ready for talks but said a comprehensive solution needed discussions between Yemen and its neighbor Saudi Arabia, which has carried out a more than year-long operation or air strikes in Yemen.

Yemen has been rocked by chaos since late 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.

In March of last year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive military campaign in Yemen aimed at reversing Houthi gains and restoring Hadi’s embattled government.

Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, pro-Hadi forces have since managed to reclaim large swathes of the country’s south -- including provisional capital Aden -- but have failed to retake Sanaa and other strategic areas.

In April of this year, the Yemeni government and the Houthis entered into UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait aimed at resolving the conflict, in which more than 6,400 people have been killed and another 2.5 million forced to flee their homes.

The negotiations, which were suspended last month, have largely failed to produce any serious breakthrough.

By Zekeriya al-Kemali

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