UN delays Yemen peace talks

UN peace conference planned to be held at the end of May for Yemen postponed after Saudi-led coalition air strikes

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

A peace conference sponsored by the United Nations, which was supposed to be held at the end of May between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, has been delayed, with no date or further information given.

The decision was made after jets from the Saudi-led coalition on Monday pounded Houthi rebel positions in Yemen’s capital Sanaa and across the country, AP reported.

The peace conference was planned to be held in Geneva on May 28, aiming to end the armed conflict between Iran-backed Houthis and the internationally recognised Yemeni government supported by a Saudi-led Arab coalition.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, since they were forbidden to talk with journalists, three Houthi officials said that they were notified the talks had been postponed and that no new date had been set.

The Houthis earlier rejected holding proposed talks that were to be hosted by Saudi Arabia, demanding that peace conferences should be held in a neutral country. 

The next peace talk offers came from the UN. The Houthis backed the talks and said they would participate, but exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi demanded they first withdraw from the cities they seized before being allowed to participate.

Houthi rebel leader Abdul-Malek al-Houthi has said that talks are the only solution to the conflict. 

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has also declared support for talks to end the fighting between Houthi militants and the country’s recognised government, but has opposed foreign involvement in the conflict.

According to AP, there have been no peace talks since Saudi-led air-strikes began on March 26, while fighting on the ground has pitted Hadi's forces against the Houthis and military units loyal to ousted rival President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The UN estimates that at least 1,037 civilians, including 130 women and 234 children, have been killed between March 26 and May 20 in the fighting. The cities of Saada and Aden have endured the most extensive damage to their infrastructure.

TRTWorld and agencies