The UN envoy to Yemen yesterday left the rebel-held capital empty handed after a mission aimed at reaching an agreement for talks between the insurgents and the government.
“We have not set a new date for the next round of talks,” Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told reporters at Sanaa airport before departing the conflict-riven country.
The Mauritanian diplomat said he was alarmed by the “suffering of Yemenis”, but he expressed hopes of a “quick return” to the negotiating table.
The Yemeni government sat down with the rebels and their allies last month in Switzerland for six days of talks that ended without a major breakthrough.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed had arrived in Sanaa on Sunday for a visit aimed at convincing the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and their allies to attend a new round of peace talks.
The envoy had met with government officials, who are temporarily based in Riyadh, before he headed to Sanaa.
Foreign Minister Abdel Malak al-Mekhlafi had said on Saturday that the talks initially scheduled to start yesterday had been postponed until January 20 or 23.
The envoy said the rebels had taken positive steps during his visit, including the release of the Minister of Technological Education, Abdel Razzak al-Ashwal, a prominent member of the Al Islah Sunni Islamist party.
Four other detainees, including activists and journalists, were also set free, he said.
He also said he received assurances about the condition of Defence Minister General Mahmud Sobeihi, who is being held by the rebels, as well as Nasser Mansour Hadi, a brother of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Meanwhile, two Yemeni policemen were killed yesterday in a bombing in main southern city Aden, in the third such attack targeting security personnel in as many days, security officials said.
“The two policemen were killed when their vehicle, in which an explosive device was planted by unknown assailants, exploded,” the sources said, adding that a third was wounded.
The bodies of both policemen were charred by flames that engulfed the vehicle, witnesses said.
On Wednesday, unidentified gunmen killed two policemen in Aden, one day after a police lieutenant colonel from the airport’s investigation unit was shot dead as he left his home.
There has been a string of killings by jihadists in Aden targeting members of the security forces and the government, which has set up its temporary base there.
Al Qaeda and the rival Islamic State group both have a foothold in the city, where jihadists occupy government buildings and patrol several districts.
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed addresses a press conference at Sanaa international airport.