UN envoy shuttles between Yemen rivals in Kuwait talks

A new round of UN-brokered talks between Yemen’s warring rivals started in Kuwait on Saturday

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad shuttled between delegates of the Yemeni government and the Shia Houthi group in Kuwait in an effort to reach a peace deal to end the conflict in Yemen, according to Anadolu Agency.

A new round of UN-brokered talks between Yemen’s warring rivals started in Kuwait on Saturday in the hope of resolving the conflict, in which more than 6,400 people have been killed and another 2.5 million forced to flee their homes.

Ould Cheikh held a separate meeting on Monday with the head of the government delegation, Abdul-Malek al-Mekhlafi, a government negotiator, who declined to be named, told Anadolu Agency.

“The envoy is expected to hold a meeting with the whole government delegation on Tuesday,” the source said.

According to the source, the UN envoy also met with a number of Gulf diplomats on Monday to brief them on the progress of the UN-sponsored talks.

Ould Cheikh, however, has yet to meet with the Houthi delegation, the source said.

The UN envoy has earlier called on Yemen’s warring rivals to take decisive decisions to help resolve the conflict in Yemen.

“We are at a critical period of time where you are being watched by the Yemeni and international communities,” he said, addressing the government and Houthi delegations.

Yemen has been racked by chaos since late 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.

In March of last year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive military campaign in Yemen aimed at reversing Houthi gains and restoring Hadi’s embattled government.

Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, pro-Hadi forces have since managed to reclaim large swathes of the country’s south — including provisional capital Aden — but have failed to retake Sanaa and other strategic areas.