UN welcomes ‘tangible progress’ to end hostilities
April 25 2016 11:16 PM

AFP/Kuwait City

The UN special envoy overseeing peace talks in Kuwait between Yemen’s warring parties yesterday welcomed “tangible progress” to end hostilities in the war-torn country.
“Reports indicate real improvement in the situation which reflects the parties’ commitment to the cessation of hostilities,” Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement at the end of the fifth day of negotiations.
His remarks come a day after he spoke of “significant differences” between the Iran-backed Yemeni rebels and the government delegation who began negotiating on Thursday.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that a ceasefire co-ordination committee and local committees were “exerting extraordinary efforts to ensure the safety and security of Yemenis”.
The UN envoy said he was encouraged by these “positive developments” and proposed to the heads of the delegations a “general framework” for the talks to be discussed in the coming days, without giving details.
Since the delayed talks began on Thursday, the two delegations have been unable to reach a common understanding on how to firm up a ceasefire that went into effect on April 11.
The delegations have agreed to appoint two officials, one from each side, to make recommendations on how to sustain the ceasefire, the UN envoy said.
The government delegation has insisted that the truce should include confidence-building measures such as opening safe passage to besieged areas and releasing prisoners.  The Iran-backed Houthis are demanding an immediate halt to air strikes and sorties that a Saudi-led coalition has carried out since March last year in support of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, who heads the government delegation, described the negotiations as “impotent” and accused the rebels of avoiding discussion of key issues.

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