Published: Sat, December 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Sweden to host Yemen peace talks as coalition agrees Houthi fighters evacuation

Sweden to host Yemen peace talks as coalition agrees Houthi fighters evacuation

The United Arab Emirates, another key backer of the beleaguered government, said the planned talks offered a "critical opportunity" to end almost four years of war.

Prospects for convening talks have increased as Western allies press Saudi Arabia, leader of the Sunni Muslim alliance battling the Iranian-aligned Houthis, over a war that has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation.

The proposed UN-brokered peace talks have been backed by both the rebels and the Saudi-led government and were expected to take place in Sweden this week.

The US Senate is due to consider this week a resolution to end support for the conflict, seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its arch-foe in the Middle East, Iran.

The fate of wounded rebels had been a stumbling block to the start of a previous round of aborted peace talks in September.

Inside the airport departure hall, other wounded rebels - some in suits and wheelchairs - lined up awaiting their evacuation to Muscat.

In Geneva, the United Nations appealed for $21.9 billion on Tuesday to address 21 humanitarian crises worldwide next year, including $4 billion for Yemen, its largest aid operation.

"Tehran is ready to help worldwide talks to end the crisis and underlines the importance of accelerating providing humanitarian aid to the people", Iran's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah earlier told reporters that his country's ambassador to Yemen would also accompany the rebel delegation travelling to Stockholm.

The Iranian foreign ministry said it backed the talks and was ready to help find a political solution, Iranian state TV reported on Monday.

The mounting humanitarian needs, and outrage over the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, have galvanized global support for ending the war.

Iran has also signaled support, urging all sides "to have constructive and responsible participation in the talks".

It was earlier repoorted that the delegation of the Houthis arrived Tuesday evening in Stockholm.

A Swedish diplomat said that while his country would do everything it could to facilitate the talks, "they are essentially the call of Griffiths and the United Nations". The government delegation and the head of the rebel delegation travelled to Sweden on Wednesday.

The UN believes success in these three areas will represent a significant confidence-building measure that could lead to improvements in the humanitarian situation and at the same time pave the way towards a political framework that can be pursued beyond the current meeting, though the UN source warns "there are no clear indications of how things will go".

The opposing sides cautiously reiterated their willingness to attend negotiations.

In a Monday statement, Iran's Foreign Ministry announced that Tehran is ready to help alleviate the worsening situation in Yemen, calling on the worldwide community to speed up the operations to send humanitarian aids to the war-torn country.

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