UN expects Yemen talks to start Monday in Geneva
GENEVA, Switzerland – UN-sponsored talks aimed at ending the conflict in Yemen by bringing representatives of the warring factions to Geneva are expected to begin on Monday, June 15, a UN spokesman said.
"We expect the parties to be here for what we call Geneva Consulatations tomorrow," spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told reporters on Sunday, June 14.
Fawzi said representatives of both sides in the Yemeni conflict were expected to be in the Swiss city on Sunday night.
The exiled, internationally-recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi said its delegation flew to Geneva on Saturday.
But representatives of the Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels and of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress refused to board a UN plane from Sanaa to Geneva on Saturday.
A Huthi official said the rebels' refusal was grounded in the fact the plane was due to stop off in Saudi Arabia – which is leading a fierce campaign of air strikes against them.
Should the talks kick off in time, Fawzi said there would be "extremely intensive consultations day and night".
"We still hope that the parties will observe a humanitarian pause," he added.
The UN Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have both called for a renewed humanitarian pause in the fighting following May's truce.
The talks brokered by UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed would be aimed at securing a ceasefire, agreeing on a withdrawal plan for the Huthis and stepping up deliveries of humanitarian aid.
The Security Council this week heard a report from new UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien, who described Yemen's humanitarian crisis as "catastrophic," with 20 million civilians in need of aid – 80 percent of the population. – Rappler.com