Yemen’s warring parties reach agreements during peace talks

World Today

Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels hold up their weapons as they attend a gathering to show their support for the ongoing peace talks being held in Sweden, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Yemen’s warring parties reached agreements on a contested port and the mechanics of a prisoner swap after a week of talks in Sweden, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced Thursday. The negotiations were the first in more than two years.

CGTN’s Al Goodman reports on Yeman peace talks in Sweden.

The war is four years old, and has killed tens of thousands and has created a humanitarian crisis, with much of Yemen’s population in danger of famine and tens of thousands of them facing especially dire difficulties in getting food, the U.N. reported.

The U.N.-mediated at the talks were held north of Stockholm. At the end of a week of negotiations between the Yemeni government and rebels, with the United Nations as a mediator, they announced some agreements.

“You have reached an agreement on Hodeidah port and city which will see a mutual redeployment of forces from the port and the city and the establishment of a governorate-wide cease-fire. The U.N. will play a leading role in the port and this will facilitate humanitarian access, ” Guterres said.

Hodeidah port is controlled by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, aligned with Iran. But the government forces are closing in, backed by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. Aid groups say vital humanitarian assistance is hardly getting through there.

“These will be the first withdrawals of any forces in the history of this conflict. And it will be done in the area of the greatest sensitivity and difficulty and danger. That’s what those two sides have agreed, ” said UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths.

But they didn’t set a timetable for the withdrawals at the port. The setting for the talks, a renovated castle north of Stockholm, Sweden. A peaceful snowy scene far removed from the four-year-old war in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands and left millions scrambling just to get daily food, the U.N. says.

UN officials say there’s still much work to be done to try to end the war in Yemen and ease the humanitarian crisis there. Like reopening the airport at the capital city of Sa’na, currently under rebel control.

But Yemen’s foreign minister expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the talks. And so did the chief negotiator for the Yemeni rebels.

“This is just the beginning, but at least it’s the beginning of a process to come to an end result that is peace in Yemen and the future that Yemeni people deserve,” Guterres added.

Results of these talks, including details for a large prisoner swap, are due to be presented to the UN Security Council on Dec. 14.

And the warring parties have agreed to meet again, in January, to keep negotiating.