UN envoy launches new bid for peace in Yemen

NAN

The UN Yemen envoy launched a new attempt on Thursday to revive the peace process for the country, days after a bid for talks between the Saudi-backed government and the Iran-linked Houthi rebels collapsed.

Last week, the Houthis did not appear for UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, which would have been the first between Yemen’s warring sides in more than two years.

UN envoy, Martin Griffiths, arrived on Wednesday in Oman, a Gulf country that stands neutral in Yemen’s war of nearly four years.

Griffiths met with Omani Foreign Minister, Youssef Alawi in the capital Muscat, Oman’s state news agency ONA reported without giving details.

The former British diplomat is expected to meet with Houthi officials in Muscat and later in Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sana’a.

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He also plans talks with Yemen government officials living in exile in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Saudi-owned television Al Arabiya said.

Griffiths’ current trip comes amid battles between Yemen’s pro-government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and rebels on the outskirts of the key port city of Hodeida.

Government loyalists said on Wednesday that they cut off a main supply route for the Houthis between Hodeida and Sana’a.

The coalition-backed forces began an offensive to retake Hodeida from the rebels in June.

They have since seized Hodeida’s airport and are pushing to retake the city and its port, through which an estimated 80 per cent of imports and aid reach Yemen.

Aid agencies have repeatedly warned that the offensive would have devastating consequences for the country’s civilian population, which is already on the brink of famine.

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