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Russia lauds Kuwaiti efforts for Yemen peace

MOSCOW, May 6, (Agencies): The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday commended Kuwait’s efforts for a political settlement in Yemen. Kuwait is playing a positive role in the political efforts seeking a settlement in Yemen, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a press conference.

Kuwait has been hosting the UN-backed Intra-Yemen talks since April 21. It is important for the Yemeni stakeholders meeting in Kuwait to be ready to work for peace and to take definite steps on the path, despite their differences, Zakharova said. She also stressed the need for commitment to the ongoing ceasefire to create favorable atmosphere to push negotiations ahead. Zakharova said Russia is intent to carry on with backing the Yemeni negotiations, as well as working with the concerned parties for a political solution to the crisis in the country in line with the UN Security relevant resolutions.

Meanwhile, Zakharova welcomed Russia- US cooperation to consolidate the truce in Syria. This cooperation has been enhanced by establishing a joint center in Geneva to monitor the truce, she said in a reply to a question from KUNA. Zakharova said that the situation in Aleppo is dramatic, laying the blame on terrorist groups for the escalation in the city to undermine the truce in place since Feb 27.

The Yemeni stakeholders are poised for reaping the fruits of the direct UN-facilitated peace talks which started here a fortnight ago under auspices of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. The three negotiating teams of the Yemeni government, the General People’s Congress and Ansarullah movement have proceeded to the topics of the agenda put forward by the UN envoy for a peaceful settlement to the conflict through addressing the political, security, economic and humanitarian aspects of the crisis.

In this context, Cheikh Ahmed said Thursday he will leave no stone unturned to set in motion a mutually-acceptable solution based on the UN Security Council Resolution 2216, the GCC initiative for peace and the outcomes of the previous rounds of the Yemeni National dialogue. At a press conference one day after the resumption of the talks which hit a snag four days ago when the government delegation suspended their participation, he called on all parties to engage in substantive discussions to realize the aspirations of the Yemeni people for peace, security and prosperity.

The UN envoy stressed the need to activate the recently-agreed truce monitoring committee, demilitarize the armed groups, and release of political detainees. However, he expressed concern over “numerous” violations of the truce agreement, noting that this should not be detrimental to the peace talks. Cheikh Ahmed said that he is reviewing this issue with firm support from the international community.

“Tension on the ground should not affect peace talks, instead, we should help to facilitate these talks,” he said, adding that a solution to the conflict in Yemen can only be a political one. The Yemeni stakeholders had renewed their call for the De-escalation and Coordination Committee (DCC) and the local committees to consolidate the ceasefire countrywide, he revealed.

The consultations well underway and “the will and the determination” of the negotiating team to conclude a deal will not recede, the envoy affirmed, noting that the DCC is due to submit a report on Friday over potential ceasefire violations in Yemen. Cheikh Ahmed stressed the necessity of assessing local committees to start with Ta’z as a model to secure delivery of humanitarian aid.

The negotiators agreed to form three work teams to address the security and political paths, as well as the issue of detainees, prompted by eagerness to push a head the wheel of peace. They have already embarked on their task and reviewed the work mechanisms, he said. “This is a promising beginning,” he went on. Referring to the humanitarian side, the UN envoy pointed to UN reports that the ceasefire, which took force on April 10, opened the way for humanitarian organizations to fulfil their task and deliver aid.

For instance, drinking water has been distributed and medical teams have begun to secure health services in Ta’z, he said. Similarly, several initiatives have been launched in Hajjah and Al-Jawf to provide protection for children and training for specialists to offer psychological support. In addition, basic commodities have been presented to nine million people, the UN envoy said.

Cheikh Ahmed emphasized the role of Yemeni women to give impetus to the peace process, saying: “Out of a belief in the significance of involving the women at that sensitive stage of Yemeni’s history, we decided to involve some Yemeni female leaders in the talks as voices of peace. “They reflect the views of female compatriots at home, he told the conference,” he went on. Seven Yemeni woman leaders arrived yesterday and met with the negotiating teams. The UN envoy thanked Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdullatif Al-Zayani for their efforts to advance the peace talks.

Seven people were killed and more than 15 wounded by a bomb on Friday in the Yemeni city Marib, east of the capital Sanaa, police told Reuters. It was not clear who planted the device which went off around midday in the heart of a crowded market where the narcotic leaf qat is sold, they said.

Marib has most of Yemen’s oil and gas fields and has long been a battleground between factions including local tribesmen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) insurgents and other Islamists, and government forces. On April 24 an air strike from a drone killed two men south of Marib city suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda, said local residents. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies have intervened in Yemen’s civil war since March last year, fighting in support of Yemen’s government after it was forced into exile by the Iran-allied Houthi group. Renewed fighting across Yemen is threatening to wreck a truce that had largely held since April 10, buttressing a round of UN-backed peace talks in Kuwait aimed at ending the conflict.

The war has killed more than 6,200 people, displaced more than 2.5 million and caused a humanitarian catastrophe in one of the world’s poorest countries. Gunmen on Friday killed the chief of the main prison in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden where jihadists remain active, a security source said. Wahab Nejib Ahmed Aoun and a relative were gunned down by two men on a motorbike in the central district of Mansura where the prison is located.

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