Yemen rebel delegation in Saudi Arabia for talks: Minister
RIYADH – Agence France-Presse
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, gives an interview to AFP at his ministry in the capital Riyadh on February 18, 2016 - AFP photoA delegation of Shiite Houthi rebels from Yemen is holding talks in Riyadh, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said April 4, ahead of a planned ceasefire and renewed Yemeni peace negotiations.
“The Houthi delegation is in Saudi Arabia and the discussions are ongoing. I believe we have made good progress,” Jubeir told reporters.
Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition that has been bombing the rebels for over a year, in support of Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
“Talks with them are ongoing with the aim of finding a political solution for the Yemen crisis,” Jubeir said.
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the first to reveal the presence of a Houthi delegation in Riyadh, in an interview with Bloomberg published April 1.
“There is significant progress in negotiations, and we have good contacts with the Houthis, with a delegation currently in Riyadh. We believe that we are closer than ever to a political solution in Yemen,” the prince said.
The revelation came ahead of a U.N.-brokered truce slated to enter into effect on April 10, followed by talks in Kuwait on April 18.
Previous negotiations have failed and earlier ceasefires were not respected, but analysts say the prospects of a deal have improved.
Saudi Arabia and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels have recently exchanged detainees and agreed through tribal mediation to ease tension along the two countries’ border.
The Houthis seized Sanaa in September 2014 then advanced south, raising fears in Riyadh that the rebels would extend the influence of Shiite Iran in the kingdom’s southern neighbour.
The United Nations says about 6,300 people have been killed in the war, more than half of them civilians.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Obaid Bin Dagr was sworn in as Yemen’s new prime minister on April 4, one day after being appointed to the post by Hadi, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, meanwhile, was sworn in as vice-president, according to Yemen’s official SABA news agency.
Both men replaced Khaled Baha, who had previously held both posts.
At the April 4 swearing-in ceremony, Hadi congratulated both men and wished them success in their appointments, the news agency reported.
Hadi also declared: “The Yemeni people made their choice clear through unanimity and national consensus, which was reflected by the outcome of the comprehensive national dialogue that was based on the Gulf Initiative and… international resolutions, the most recent of which was [U.N. Security Council] Resolution 2216.”
Adopted by the Security Council in 2015, Resolution 2216 calls on Yemen’s Shia Houthi militant group to withdraw from all cities currently under their control and to hand their weapons over to the state.