No face-to-face meetings at Yemen peace talks

Say govt officials

3 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

ADEN: Yemen’s warring parties will not meet face-to-face at UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva this week which will likely focus on a prisoner exchange deal, government officials said Sunday, reports AFP.

The United Nations has invited Yemen’s government and the Iran-backed Huthi rebels to Geneva for talks which open Thursday.

Both parties have confirmed they are sending high-level delegations to the talks, but officials say expectations of a breakthrough are low.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths has said the talks are aimed at charting a path forward to revive UN-backed negotiations which broke down in 2016.

The Yemeni government says the talks will likely focus on a prisoner exchange deal and the fate of embattled Hodeida, the rebel-held port city that is now the frontline of the Yemen war.

Yemen’s Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani told AFP the meetings “will not be face-to-face and depend on how well the UN envoy manages the two sides”.

“The consultations will be indirect, unless there is some progress that can be made directly,” said Abdullah al-Olaimi, head of Yemen’s presidential office and a member of the Geneva delegation.

Yemen’s government has openly said it has low expectations for the talks, blaming the Huthis for refusing to make concessions.

“Our expectations are limited to the possibility of progress in the question of prisoners and detainees,” Yamani said.

“I think this is the chance to succeed in securing the release of prisoners, and I believe the other party is also willing and ready.”

The UN has likewise set a low bar for the talks—the first since 106 days of negotiations in Kuwait failed to yield an agreement between the government and rebels back in 2016.

“The aim of this first round of consultations is to better understand how committed both parties are to the framework for formal negotiations... and to come to some conclusions about how those negotiations may start,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.


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