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Final session of Yemen’s strained peace talks announced

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Written by NY Staff

Despite earlier warning the deadline will not be extended, the UN envoy announced that Yemen’s final negotiating session will be held on Saturday, but noted they will resume later.

Yemen’s strained peace talks have been suspended for the weekend, the UN special envoy to Yemen said on Thursday, despite the final deadline announced by the negotiating parties.
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who has been mediating the talks between President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government and the Houthi rebels and their allies in Kuwait since April 21, made the comments ahead of the expected August 7 deadline.

“We plan to hold the final session (of the talks) on Saturday,” the Mauritanian diplomat said in an interview on state-run Kuwait TV.

“We are working on issuing a communique that will emphasise on the main points we have achieved.”

But he confirmed the talks would resume later, suggesting they could once again be held in Kuwait, despite the royal family warning it would not further extend the deadline beyond August 7.

On Thursday, the government delegation returned to Kuwait after leaving earlier this week, citing Houthi disengagement.

On Monday, the government declared it would accept a draft peace deal offered by Ould Cheikh, however the opposing Houthi rebel party rejected the proposed plan.

Abdulmalik al-Mikhlafi said the government had fulfilled its duties at the Kuwait-based talks and it is now up to the rebels to make a move.

“We are leaving today after having completed our part in the talks,” Mikhlafi told a press conference on Monday afternoon.

“The ball is now in the rebels’ court,” he added, noting that the government had made sacrifices in signing the deal despite not backing it fully.

Despite this, the envoy said all complicated issues were discussed and insisted some achievements were made during negotiations between the warring factions.

“We wanted to have a sustainable and lasting peace agreement,” said Ould Cheikh who on Wednesday briefed the UN Security Council about the talks.

The draft settlement was “no more than [a] media stunt” aimed at foiling talks, the statement said, according to the rebel-run news agency.

The rebels have insisted that a peace deal must first forge an accord on a new consensual executive authority, including a new president and government.

According to the government, the draft plan calls for the rebels to withdraw from the capital Sanaa and two major cities, hand over heavy arms and return state institutions they seized in September 2014.

More than 6,400 people have been killed in the Arabian Peninsula state since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March last year in support of Hadi’s government.

Another 2.8 million people have been displaced and more than 80 percent of the population urgently needs humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.