Wed, Dec 16, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Yemeni ceasefire goes into effect as peace talks begin

SWISS SOJOURN:A UN spokesman said two delegations, consisting of 12 negotiators and six advisers, were taking part in ‘consultations’ at an undisclosed Swiss location

AFP, ADEN, Yemen

Tribesmen loyal to the Houthi movement yesterday perform a traditional dance at a gathering to show their support for the group in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

Photo: Reuters

A ceasefire took effect yesterday in conflict-ravaged Yemen as warring sides began UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland, according to the UN and the Saudi-led coalition battling Iran-backed rebels.

Limited violations of the truce were reported shortly after it began at midday, with several mortar rounds hitting government forces in Taez Province, according to a Yemeni security official.

The Saudi-led coalition, which launched an air war against the Houthi Shiite rebels and their allies in March, said the ceasefire had started as scheduled following a request by Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The rebel forces, who control the capital, have yet to say if they will abide by the truce.

UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed hailed the halt in fighting as “a critical first step towards building a lasting peace in the country.”

He said that the talks in Switzerland “seek to establish a permanent ceasefire and pave the way for a return to a peaceful and orderly political transition.”

UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi confirmed that the talks had begun at an undisclosed location.

“The UN-sponsored consultations aimed at finding a durable settlement to the Yemen crisis started today in Switzerland,” he told reporters.

“These consultations seek to establish a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, secure improvements to the humanitarian situation and a return to a peaceful and orderly political transition,” he added.

Fawzi said 12 negotiators and six advisers made up each of the two delegations taking part in the talks.

Ahead of the truce, clashes shook the flashpoint city of Taez and coalition warplanes bombed rebel positions.

Even after the ceasefire took effect, a Yemeni security official reported five mortars targeted pro-Hoadi forces in Shuraija, south of Taez.

Resident reported hearing shelling in the city.

The coalition has said that it “reserves the right to respond in case of any violation.”

Hadi has declared his government’s intention to have a seven-day truce to coincide with the peace talks and to be “renewed automatically if the other party commits to it,” the coalition said.

A Yemen presidential statement said the proposed ceasefire “comes out of keenness to grab any chance to achieve peace, to reduce the suffering of our people in Yemen and to end bloodshed.”

A lull in fighting is sorely needed in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation, where the UN says an estimated 80 percent of the population requires humanitarian aid.

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