Yemen's gov't negotiating team departs for UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-05 16:34:18|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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ADEN, Yemen, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- The negotiating team representing the Saudi-backed Yemeni government left Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh early Wednesday for the UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden.

The 13-member team, headed by Yemen's Foreign Minister Khaled Yamani, departed Saudi Arabia to engage in direct negotiations with the delegates of Houthi rebels in Sweden's capital Stockholm, a government source said on condition of anonymity.

Abdullah Al-Alimy, head of Yemen's Presidency Office, said on his official Twitter account that the government delegation will put the concerns and aspirations of the Yemeni people as the priority.

"All efforts will be exerted to ensure the success of the talks that are considered as a real chance for peace," Al-Alimy noted.

A day earlier, the Houthi negotiators, accompanied by visiting UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and a Kuwaiti envoy, left the rebel-held capital Sanaa for Stockholm on a Kuwaiti plane to attend the talks.

No exact date has been announced yet for the start of the first peace talks on Yemen since 2016.

Griffiths' office in the Jordanian capital of Amman has told Xinhua that the talks in Stockholm is likely to start in a few days.

The discussions in Sweden were expected to focus on allowing the Yemeni people access to humanitarian aid, under the imminent threat of famine amid war.

"Yemen is on the brink of a major catastrophe," UN Undersecretary-General Mark Lowcock, emergency relief coordinator and head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said after his latest visit to Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to reinstate the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthi rebels forced him into exile in Riyadh.

The almost four years of the Yemeni war have killed more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, displaced 3 million others, and pushed the country to the brink of famine.