Fragile peace talks aimed at ending fighting in Yemen are making progress as a truce largely holds, the U.N. envoy for the country asserted Sunday after the impoverished Arab nation’s government agreed to return to the negotiating table.Yemen’s government last week announced it was suspending talks being held in Kuwait with Houthi rebels, accusing them of refusing to accept the legitimacy of the country’s internationally recognized president.
During a Saturday meeting in the Qatari capital Doha with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the emir of Qatar, Yemeni President Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi agreed to send the government delegation back to the talks, according to a U.N. statement.
Speaking at Doha Forum conference Sunday, U.N. envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that the drop in violence has been crucial in ensuring much-needed aid can make its way to areas affected by the fighting.
“The cessation of hostilities is holding around 80 to 90 percent,” he said, even as he acknowledged that pockets of violence continue. “The people of Yemen feel there is a cessation of hostilities.”
The peace talks are aimed at ending the conflict based on a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for militias to withdraw from all cities, hand over weapons and release political detainees.
Cheikh Ahmed expressed hope that most of the thorniest issues in the conflict have been discussed during the Kuwait talks.
“We are not at square zero. … We are in fact making incredible progress,” he said when asked during the forum about the slow pace of the negotiations. He expressed hope that a resolution to the conflict is “very close,” though he was quick to add a note of caution.
“I cannot guarantee you an outcome. You can be very close, but then because of the position of the parties they may fail,” he said.