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Yemen Talks: Rivals Vow to Meet Again

21 December 2015 8:38


Yemen’s warring parties wrapped up peace talks in Switzerland on Sunday with no major breakthrough but vowed to meet again next month, even as fighting raged on the ground.

The six days of closed-door meetings were strained by repeated violations of a ceasefire aimed at calming tensions between Saudi-backed forces and the Houthi movement who control Yemen’s capital.

UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced in Bern that a new round of talks would be held on January 14 at a location yet to be decided.

A halt to the violence is sorely needed in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation, where the UN says fighting since March has killed thousands of people and left around 80 percent of the population needing humanitarian aid.

The talks in Switzerland, held in a remote part of Bern canton to keep media at bay, ended without any major steps forward, and were undermined by daily breaches of the ceasefire.

“Unfortunately there were numerous violations,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed told a news conference, adding that the UN had called for “a ceasefire which is not time-bound”.

The parties had meanwhile agreed to a range of “confidence-building measures”, he said, AFP reported.

These included an agreement “in principle” to release all prisoners, he said, while acknowledging that such an exchange would probably not happen before a sustainable ceasefire had been agreed.

But, he stressed, “I am optimistic about a full prisoner release and that a full prisoner release will take place very soon.”

The two sides had also agreed on the need to “lift all forms of blockade and allow safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian supplies to all affected governorates”, according to the final statement.

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