Yemen peace talks begin in Sweden
Talks between Yemen's government and rebels, locked in a devastating war for nearly four years, opened Thursday as tension remained high despite what the UN envoy called a "critical opportunity".
Yemen's government and rebels doubled down on their rival demands yesterday, just moments before hard-won consultations were due to open in Sweden under the auspices of the United Nations.
The talks will not include negotiations on a solution to the conflict between the Saudi-backed government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Yemen's Huthi rebels, UN envoy Martin Griffiths told reporters.
One of the most impoverished countries in the world, the Arabian Peninsula state of Yemen is now home to what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 14 million people facing imminent mass starvation.
The talks have been months in the making, with the UN sending its special envoy to Sanaa to personally escort the rebel delegation to Sweden. They are slated to last for one week, according to a source in the UN.
"During the coming days we will have a critical opportunity to give momentum to the peace process," Griffiths told reporters as the rival delegations gathered in Sweden.
"There is a way we can resolve the conflict," Griffiths said, adding that the Security Council was "united" in its support for a resolution to the conflict.
The negotiations mark the first attempt in two years to broker an end to the Yemen conflict, which has killed at least 10,000 people since Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government's fight against the rebels in 2015.