Houthis Unsure about Success of Sweden Talks on Yemen

A member of the Houthi delegation participating in the negotiations in Sweden departs from Sanaa airport Yemen

Yemen peace talks in Sweden a ‘vital first step’ says Washington

The comments from the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the pro-government coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, came as UN envoy Martin Griffiths is in the rebel-held capital Sanaa seeking to push forward the planned talks.

The delegation had delayed its departure until the rebels had arrived in Stockholm after they failed to show up for the last United Nations bid to convene peace talks in September, complaining they had received insufficient guarantees of safe passage through the blockade enforced by a Saudi-led coalition since March 2015, sources close to the government told AFP.

The Saudi-backed government has said it would follow the Houthis to the talks, the first since 2016.

Proposed UN-led talks in Sweden mark a "critical opportunity" to bring peace to war-torn Yemen after four years of conflict, a top Emirati official said Tuesday.

The U.N. humanitarian aid chief says he doesn't expect an "easy or rapid process" in peace talks aimed at ending Yemen's devastating civil war, which are set to begin later this week.

On Monday, a UN-chartered plane carrying 50 wounded Houthi fighters and three Yemeni doctors left Sana'a for Oman's capital, Muscat, for treatment.

The UN envoy arrived in Sana'a on Monday in a bid to pave the way for peace talks, which come after almost four years of war that have led to displacement, food insecurity, outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria across the country.

"When we head to the negotiations in Sweden, we will discuss the operational issues of this agreement, how it can be implemented, how to exchange the detainees, prisoners, abductees and the forcibly disappeared", he said.

The previous round of the peace talks collapsed in the Swiss city of Geneva in September.

Lawrence Davidson, professor at the West Chester University, has told Press TV, that the prisoner exchange deal was made possible because of mounting worldwide pressure on the Riyadh regime over the killing of critic Jamal Khashoggi. "How far it will go, we will have to see", he added.

Khashoggi's murder is widely blamed on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been leading the war on Yemen in his capacity as the kingdom's defense minister.

Prospects for convening talks have increased as Western allies press Saudi Arabia, leader of the Sunni Muslim alliance battling the Iranian-aligned Houthis, over a war that has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation.

The United States welcomed the prospect of peace talks on Tuesday, less than a week after USA senators moved forward with a historic resolution to halt Washington's support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

The Saudi-led offensive, coupled with a naval blockade, has destroyed Yemen's infrastructure and led to starvation in the import-dependent state.

The cost of food has increased by 35 percent in the last 12 months, with more than 22 million Yemenis - a figure double the population of Sweden, needing humanitarian assistance.

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