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Yemen: injured Houthi rebels to be evacuated, raising hope of peace talks
07 December 2018, 09:05 | Darnell Patrick
UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is seen during his departure at Sanaa airport Yemen
He said in a tweet that the Coalition supporting the legitimate government in Yemen has "succeeded in accomplishing many goals of the military operation and always asserted the need to force the Houthi delegation to come to the negotiating table and implement worldwide resolutions, especially UN Security Council Resolution 2216".
Meanwhile, the Saudi-backed government's delegation is expected to arrive in Sweden on Wednesday, according to a source affiliated with the government.
United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths arrived in the Houthi-held capital Sanaa on Monday to escort the Houthi delegation, a United Nations source told Reuters.
On Tuesday, a Houthi delegation arrived in Sweden for the peace talks, the first since 2016.
The government delegation was carrying the "hopes of the Yemeni people to achieve sustainable peace", said Abdullah Al-Alimi, the head of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's office.
A previous attempt by Griffiths to convene peace talks in Switzerland in September collapsed when rebels failed to show up, saying they had not received sufficient guarantees of safe passage through the crippling air and sea blockade that a Saudi-led coalition fighting alongside the government has enforced since March 2015.
Peace talks between the Yemeni government and rebels, aimed at ending four years of war that has pushed 14 million people to the brink of starvation, were due to open Thursday in Sweden.
"This is one step in the right direction towards the building of mutual trust among Yemeni communities", spokesperson Mirella Hodeib told AFP.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Tuesday that the Sweden talks are a "critical opportunity".
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Yemeni government official Hadi Haig said between 1,500 and 2,000 pro-government personnel and between 1,000 and 1,500 Houthis would be released.
Saudi Arabia and its allies also allowed the Houthis to evacuate 50 wounded rebels from Sanaa for medical treatment in Oman.
"We have no illusions that this process will be easy, but we welcome this necessary and vital first step", said Heather Nauert, the State Department s spokeswoman.
But fresh fighting flared on Monday and the coalition spokesman said military operations were "ongoing".
Western powers, which provide arms and intelligence to the coalition, may have greater leverage to demand action on Yemen after outrage over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul increased scrutiny of the kingdom's activities in the region. Three-quarters of impoverished Yemen's population, or 22 million people, require aid.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed his support for the talks in a tweet on Monday. The US Senate is set to consider a resolution to end support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
The conflict began with the Houthi takeover of the capital, Sanaa, and much of northern Yemen in 2014.
"A stable state, important for the region, can not coexist with unlawful militias", he said.
Meanwhile, the Yemeni government demanded that the Houthis withdraw from the port city of Hodeidah.
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