Houthis reject govt call to open Sanaa airport
Rebuff govt demand for Hodeida withdrawal
A Yemeni government official yesterday said that Huthi rebels were "not serious" on finding common ground to end the devastating war, three days into UN-brokered talks in Sweden.
Nearly four years into a war that has pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of starvation, the Saudi-backed government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Huthi rebels, linked to Riyadh's archrival Iran, are in the rural town of Rimbo for what UN officials expect will be a week of negotiations.
Government representatives, rebel spokesmen and UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths have all said the talks are not aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict.
Both Yemeni parties have threatened to leave the talks if certain demands are not met.
Among the issues under discussion are the country's failed economy, potential humanitarian corridors, a prisoner swap, the reopening of the defunct Sanaa international airport, and Hodeida, the rebel-held city at the heart of an ongoing government offensive.
The government has held firm to its demand that the Huthis evacuate the western governorate of Hodeida, home to a Red Sea port that is the entry point for 90 percent of food imports to impoverished Yemen, and hand the area over to security forces.
The rebels, however, refused that demand Friday.
A government proposal to turn Sanaa internatonal airport into a domestic airport was also rejected by the rebels Friday.
Sanaa airport has been largely shut for three years, during which the Saudi-led coalition took control of Yemen's sea and airspace.
The coalition accuses the rebels of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeida and Sanaa airport. Tehran denies the charge.
The Huthis, northern tribesmen who hail from the minority Zaidi Shia community, overran the capital and a string of ports in a territorial takeover in 2014.
Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened to bolster the Hadi government's standing, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.