Yemen’s government said Thursday it was ready to re-start peace talks with Houthi rebels, as international pressure to end the years-long conflict intensifies.
The United Nations said a day earlier it aimed to relaunch the talks within a month, after a previous attempt collapsed in September when the rebels refused to attend.
“The Republic of Yemen welcomes all efforts to restore peace,” a government statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency said.
“The government of Yemen is ready to immediately launch talks on the process of confidence-building, primarily the release of all detainees and prisoners, as well as those who have been abducted or subject to enforced disappearance,” it said.
The United States this week called for an immediate end to the hostilities in Yemen, where Washington backs an Arab coalition fighting alongside the government against the Iran-backed Houthis.
In September, the Houthis refused to travel to Geneva for planned peace talks, accusing the U.N. of failing to guarantee their delegation’s return to the Yemeni capital Sanaa and to secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman.
Previous talks broke down in 2016, when 108 days of negotiations in Kuwait between the government of President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi and the rebels failed to yield a deal.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week called for an end to the Yemen war, including airstrikes, in an implicit acknowledgement that the Arab coalition was involved in the bombing of civilians.
Both the Houthis and the Arab coalition stand accused of transgressions that could amount to war crimes.
The coalition has been blacklisted by the U.N. for the maiming and killing of children in a country where 14 million people now face starvation.
Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, is the target of the longest drone war in U.S. history.
In 2012, the U.S. expanded a covert war against the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which Washington categorizes as the radical group’s most dangerous branch.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015, when the Arab coalition intervened after the Houthis seized Sanaa.
Rights groups say the toll could be as high as 50,000.
Source: National News Agency