Yemen peace talks: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to attend last day of Sweden dialogue

Rimbo: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will attend the last day of talks between warring Yemeni parties in Sweden on Thursday, the world body said. Guterres will participate in UN-brokered negotiations between Yemen's government and Huthi rebels in the rural village of Rimbo, north of Stockholm.

File image of Antonio Guterres. Reuters

File image of Antonio Guterres. Reuters

He will "hold meetings with the two delegations and will address the closing session of this round of consultations", the UN said in a statement.

The talks aim to broker deals on major issues in the Yemen war, a complex conflict between the Huthi rebels — armed northern tribes backed by Iran — and the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, allied with a powerful military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The war has triggered what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 14 million people facing imminent starvation and one child dead every 10 minutes from preventable causes.

While the talks do not aim for a mutual ceasefire, mediators are pushing for a de-escalation of violence in two flashpoint cities: rebel-held Hodeida, a port city vital to the delivery of humanitarian aid, and Taiz, Yemen's third largest city, scene of some of the most intense fighting in the war.

However, Hodeida has proved a point of contention between the government and the rebels. The Red Sea city is controlled by the Huthis. Shipments through its ports are severely restricted by the Saudi-led coalition, which controls Yemen's maritime borders and airspace.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths has guided both parties through intensive political consultations on various sensitive issues "with the aim of putting Yemen back on the path of peace, and alleviating the suffering of the Yemeni people," the UN said.

Last week, Guterres appealed to the Yemeni government and rebels to de-escalate violence around Hodeida, through which 90 per cent of food imports and three-quarters of humanitarian aid reach Yemen — where the UN says close to 75 percent of the population will need humanitarian assistance in 2019.

The World Health Organisation estimates nearly 10,000 Yemenis have been killed since 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition joined Hadi's fight against the Huthis. Other estimates put the toll at as high as 50,000.

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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2018 08:52:14 IST

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