Huthi Shiite militants inspect damage following an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition on May 31, 2015 in Al-Thawra sport city, located north of the capital Sanaa
Huthi Shiite militants inspect damage following an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition on May 31, 2015 in Al-Thawra sport city, located north of the capital Sanaa © Mohammed Huwais - AFP/File
Huthi Shiite militants inspect damage following an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition on May 31, 2015 in Al-Thawra sport city, located north of the capital Sanaa
AFP
Last updated: June 4, 2015

UN seeks to persuade Yemen's Huthis to attend talks

A UN envoy told the Security Council on Wednesday that Yemen's government will attend peace talks in Geneva but the Huthi rebels have yet to confirm their participation, diplomats said.

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has tentatively set June 14 as the date for the talks to begin in Geneva between all parties in Yemen, which has been pounded by Saudi-led coalition air strikes for more than two months.

The talks would be aimed at securing a ceasefire, agreeing on a withdrawal plan for the Huthis and stepping up deliveries of humanitarian aid, according to diplomats who attended the closed-door briefing.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed said Yemen's government and the main parties were ready to go to Geneva, but that he was "continuing his consultations" with the Huthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's party, the General People's Congress, to secure their attendance, the diplomats said.

Council members also heard a report from new UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien who described Yemen's humanitarian crisis as "catastrophic," with 20 million civilians in need of aid, or 80 percent of the population.

Yemen has been engulfed in turmoil since the Iranian-backed Huthis seized the capital Sanaa in September and advanced on the southern city of Aden, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee into exile in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition has carried out air strikes on Yemen since March 26 to push back the Huthis and restore Hadi's authority. More than 2,000 people have died since the air campaign began.

The Security Council on Tuesday backed a call by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for a new humanitarian pause in fighting following last month's truce and said peace talks should be held as soon as possible.

A round of talks scheduled for May 28 was postponed after the government demanded that the Huthis withdraw from territory seized during their offensive.

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