DUBAI, March 21, (AFP): A new round of UN-brokered Yemeni peace talks could be held by the end of this month in Kuwait, a government official told AFP on Monday. The talks would be accompanied by a ceasefire, much-needed in the wartorn country where a Saudi-led coalition launched a military campaign in support of the internationally-recognised government one year ago, said the Yemeni official who requested anonymity. Yemen’s warring parties who met with UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed last week have agreed on “the principle of holding a new round of talks in late March in Kuwait,” the official told AFP.
The UN envoy wrote on his Facebook page late on Sunday that he held “positive and constructive talks” in rebel-held Sanaa with the Iran-backed Huthis and their allies — supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. “Preparations are ongoing for the next round of peace talks on Yemen,” he wrote, without giving a specific date or location for the awaited negotiations.
A resumption of talks must be accompanied by a “week-long truce that could be renewed if respected,” he said, adding that discussions should focus on the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2216. The resolution states that the rebels must withdraw from seized territories and disarm, before peace talks can progress. On Wednesday, the Arab coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al- Assiri told AFP that the alliance was at “the end of the major combat phase”, raising hopes of a possible relaunch of peace talks.
Kuwait is a member of the nine-nation coalition. Previous UN-sponsored negotiations between rebels and government officials failed to reach a breakthrough, and the most recent round ended in acrimony in December. The World Health Organization says fighting in Yemen has killed almost 6,300 people over the past year and the United Nations has warned of an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe.
Israel has spirited 19 Jews out of wartorn Yemen in a “covert operation” to rescue some of the last remnants of one of the world’s most ancient Jewish communities, officials said Monday. The operation transporting them to Israel almost brings to an end the Jewish community in Yemen, which once numbered around 60,000 people and dates back some 2,000 years.
Only 50 or so Jews now remain in Yemen after choosing to stay, according to the Jewish Agency, responsible for immigration to Israel. Most of them — around 40 — live in a protected compound adjacent to the US embassy in Sanaa.