UN diplomat pushes to hold Yemen talks

Updated: 2015-06-02 10:01


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Oman is the only member of the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council not taking part in the military campaign in Yemen, and has a record as a peacemaker in the strife-torn region.

The United Nations envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has also achieved headway towards convening talks in Geneva, Yemeni government spokesman Rajeh Badi said.

He said progress was made on "the date, agenda and framework for the Geneva talks and the parties that attend the meeting" and that a formal announcement was expected within hours.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed was in the Saudi capital Riyadh for talks with Yemeni President Hadi, his deputy, Vice President Khaled Bahah, and other political figures. Before that, he held discussions with Houthi leaders in Sanaa.

Previous plans for talks in Switzerland were postponed due to objections by the Riyadh-based Yemeni government, which wants the Houthis to quit Yemen's main cities and recognise Hadi's authority before speaking to them.

The United States, the main ally of Saudi Arabia, has provided the kingdom with weapons and intelligence during its war against the Houthis.

The Houthis want a ceasefire as a precondition for talks, and the Yemeni politicians say the UN envoy has made progress toward an agreement on a five-week ceasefire and the release by the Houthis of several detained pro-Hadi figures -- including the defence minister and the president's brother.


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