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UN envoy pushes ahead for Yemen peace talks as wounded Houthis evacuated

SANAA: The UN Yemen envoy sought on Tuesday to press forward planned peace talks in Sweden a day after the Arab coalition agreed for 50 wounded Houthi militia to be transferred to Muscat for medical treatment as part of the agreement.
Envoy Martin Griffiths was in the Sanaa for meetings to evacuate the 50 wounded Houthi fighters for treatment in neutral Oman on Monday — a key Houthi precondition for the talks.
A previous attempt by Griffiths to convene peace talks in Switzerland in September collapsed when rebels failed to show up.
The United Arab Emirates, which is a key player in the coalition, said the evacuation of the wounded fighters showed its commitment to the talks in Sweden and the opportunity they provided.
“We believe Sweden offers a critical opportunity to successfully engage in a political solution for Yemen,” the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said.
“Evacuating wounded Houthi fighters from Sanaa once again demonstrates the Yemeni government & the Arab coalition’s support for peace,” he said in a tweet.
The UN envoy said on Monday that he was “pleased to confirm” the evacuation and “urged all Yemenis to work together in pursuit of peace.”
International support for the new peace bid has been spurred by UN warnings that 15 million Yemenis are at risk of famine as the already dire humanitarian situation in the war-torn country deteriorates.
The UN envoy has said he has secured the Houthis’ agreement to discuss handing over the city’s vital port to UN supervision to head off any disruption of the vital aid lifeline.
No date has yet been set but hopes have been building that they could go ahead this week.
Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah told reporters that a Houthi delegation was now set to leave Sanaa for Stockholm on Tuesday together with his country’s ambassador to Yemen.
The UAE minister said on Tuesday that the talks must not lose sight of the demands made of the Houthis by Resolution 2216 passed by the UN Security Council in April 2015, a month after President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as they overran the capital.
“A stable state, important for the region, cannot coexist with unlawful militias,” Gargash said.
“UN Security Council Resolution 2216 offers a workable roadmap.”
The resolution demands that the Houthis recognize the legitimacy of Hadi’s government and withdraw from all towns and cities they had taken, including Sanaa.
It also demands that they return all heavy weaponry they had taken from government arsenals, including the missiles which they have since used to launch persistent attacks into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

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