Yemen: UN says Saudi-Houthi talks in Sana’a ‘a welcome step’
Stéphane Dujarric was responding to questions from correspondents at the regular noon briefing in New York, after news reports that progress had been made towards a permanent ceasefire, to end Saudi Arabia’s military involvement in a military coalition that has backed the internationally recognized Government in its civil conflict with Houthi militia, since 2015.
Neighbouring Oman has been involved in peace talks with the warring parties in Yemen, running in parallel with UN efforts, led by Special Envoy Hans Grundberg, who Mr. Dujarric said was continuing to “explore options to extend and expand” a UN-brokered six-month truce, which expired last October.
Even after the expiration, Mr. Grundberg noted in a statement issued last week, that the truce was “broadly holding” while many elements continue in place.
The Envoy said that greater humanitarian relief, a nationwide ceasefire and a sustainable political settlement “that meets the aspirations of Yemeni women and men” was essential, through a process that brings all stakeholders together.
Mr. Dujarric said that the discussions in Sana’a were “very much welcomed by the Secretary-General” and added that Mr. Grundberg continues to be “in close coordination with the regional Member States” over resuming the political process, with the hope of avoiding any escalation in the long-running war.
The UN Spokesperson noted that the UN had not been involved in the talks in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital.
‘One day at a time’
“We are not involved in every discussion, we don’t need to be”, he said. “What is important is that all of these parties work towards the relevant Security Council resolution, the UN facilitated talks, and all signals are, that they are. But we will have to take things one day at a time.”
News reports suggested that progress in the Oman-mediated talks and brightening prospects of a peace deal for Yemen, added to momentum provided by the resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, in a deal brokered by China.
Since conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels escalated in 2015, tens of thousands have died, millions have been displaced, and aid agencies assisted nearly 11 million each month last year, with lifesaving aid, amid what remains one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Around 17 million people rely on aid agencies to survive this year, the Security Council heard in a briefing last month.