Naharnet

Yemen Rebels Open to More Talks if 'Progress' Made in Sweden

Yemen's Huthi rebels are open to more talks with the rival government if progress is made this week at U.N.-brokered negotiations in Sweden, a spokesman said on Sunday.

The Sweden initiative marks the first meeting between the two sides since the 2016 breakdown of talks to end the Yemen war, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives since 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government fight against the rebels. 

"If we leave these consultations having made progress -- progress in building confidence and finding a framework -- we can hold a new round of talks" in the coming months, Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdelsalam told reporters.

Abdelsalam, who heads the rebel delegation, spoke on the sidelines of U.N.-brokered talks in the rural village of Rimbo, where warring Yemeni parties are gathered.

Among the issues under discussion in Sweden are potential humanitarian corridors, a prisoner swap, the reopening of the defunct Sanaa international airport, and Hodeida, the rebel-held port city at the heart of a government offensive.

The conflict has triggered what the U.N. calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis. 

Abdelsalam reiterated his group's call for the reopening of Sanaa international airport, closed save for a few select aid flights for nearly three years now. 

A government representative on Saturday told AFP his team had proposed the main airport be relocated to Aden, the southern city that serves as a government bastion. 

Government representatives, rebel spokesmen and U.N. Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths have all said the talks are not intended to reach a political solution to the conflict, which gained renewed attention in the uproar over the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Source: Agence France Presse


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