Sweden talks critical opportunity for Yemen peace

Sweden talks critical opportunity for Yemen peace

The Saudi-led Arab coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen said that the plane had departed Sanaa after the legitimate government verified the identities of the injured amid previous reports that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were among them.

If the talks show results, "it is possible that we could find by the second half of the year that the extreme edge could get taken off the suffering of those people who have no form of income", Lowcock said, while noting that diplomatic gains were hard to predict.

"Evacuating wounded Houthi fighters from Sanaa once again demonstrates the Yemeni government and the Arab coalition's support for peace", the UAE's state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in a tweet.

The peace talks may start on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Hadi Haig, a government official, told the AFP news agency that the deal covered between 1,500 and 2,000 pro-government forces and between 1,000 and 1,500 Houthi rebels.

He added: "In implementation of the directives of the President of the Republic of Yemen, the government's delegation will put the concerns and aspirations of the Yemeni people at the top of its priorities and will make every effort to ensure the success of the consultations, which we consider a real opportunity for peace".

The talks are also expected to discuss the reopening of Sanaa worldwide airport and the payment of salaries to civil servants in Houthi-held areas.

The release of prisoners and detainees which will be the first achievement of these consultations, as both the parties had earlier on Monday agreed on the prisoners' exchange deal, which was negotiated by United Nations special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. Overall, 24 million people in Yemen - roughly 75 per cent of the population - will need humanitarian assistance in 2019.

If the negotiations show results, "it is possible that we could find by the second half of the year that the extreme edge could get taken off the suffering of those people who have no form of income", he said.

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The oil-rich Gulf emirate has been a mediator in the devastating conflict.

Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthi rebel group overran much of the country.

Western allies, which provide arms and intelligence to the coalition, have ramped up pressure on them to find a way to end a conflict that killed tens of thousands of people and left more than 8 million facing starvation.

Outrage over the October 2 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has intensified worldwide scrutiny of Saudi activities in the region, potentially giving Western powers, which provide arms and intelligence to the coalition, more leverage to demand action.

The coalition has largely suspended its offensive on Hodeida in the face of US-led calls for a ceasefire and new peace talks.

"A stable state, important for the region, can not coexist with unlawful militias", Gargash said.

"UN Security Council Resolution 2216 offers a workable road map".

Talks initially broke down in 2016, when 108 days of negotiations in Kuwait failed to yield a deal and left rebel delegates stranded in Oman for three months.

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