Yemeni government agrees to attend UN-sponsored peace talks

Sanaa, Oct 18 (IANS) The Yemeni government has agreed to attend peace talks held by the UN in order to put an end to the current civil war, authorities said on Sunday.

“The Yemeni government officially agreed to attend a new round of UN-facilitated peace talks that will be held in Geneva by the end of this month,” government spokesman Rajeh Badi told Xinhua.

This is the third time that the UN attempted to broker peace talks between the Yemeni government and Shiite Houthi group. The two sides attended talks held in Geneva in June, which collapsed as the warring parties refused to meet each other in one room.

The second talk did not even start last month as the Yemeni government dropped out before it was to be held in Oman, as the two sides set preconditions.

A presidential source told media that the Houthi group and its allies confirmed to UN special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed that they will commit to the Security Council Resolution 2216 that calls for the withdrawal of Houthi forces from territories they have captured and for them to disarm.

“Houthi should release political and military detainees to prove their good intentions before the peace talks,” the source added.

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled to the country’s southern port city of Aden in late February after about one month of house arrest and declared that the country’s second city is the temporary capital.

Hadi and his cabinet have been taking refuge in the Saudi capital of Riyadh since then. They were back in Aden city last month to resume work but returned to Riyadh after two weeks as their hotel was attacked by the Islamic State (IS) militants.

The Saudi-led coalition has carried out military operations, including airstrikes on a daily basis, against Houthis since late March across Yemen in an effort to restore Hadi’s authority.

The ground battles and airstrikes have left more than 5,000 people killed in Yemen, half of them civilians.

Pro-Hadi forces have retaken several southern provinces in recent months, however the Houthis still controls the northern part of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

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