Prisoner swap deal close in Yemen, vow to attend Sweden peace talks
The UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths says the warring sides in Yemen are close to a deal on exchanging prisoners as a confidence-building measure ahead of the upcoming peace talks in Sweden, which both sides have promised to attend.
The United Nations has received firm assurances from the warring parties that they are committed to attending peace talks in Sweden, the UN envoy told the Security Council Friday.
Griffiths said the UN intends to convene the Sweden talks very soon given the two sides’ “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution to end the war waged by the Saudi-led coalition in 2015 in a bid to push back the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore to power former Yemeni President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
“With this in mind, I intend to reconvene the parties shortly and to do so in Sweden. I believe we are close to resolving issues to make this happen,” Griffiths said.
“I have received firm assurances from the leadership of the Yemeni parties… that they are committed to attending these consultations. I believe they are genuine.”
Griffiths plans to travel to the Yemeni capital of Sana’a next week to finalize arrangements and offered to travel with the Houthi delegation to Sweden after the Saudi-led coalition prevented the Ansarullah delegation from attending the peace talks.
According to the UN envoy, the Saudi-led coalition invading Yemen has agreed to “logistical arrangements” to pave the way for talks including medical evacuations out of Sana’a.
Griffiths announced he was close to reaching a deal on an exchange of prisoners and detainees, in a further confidence-building measure ahead of planned talks.
“This is a crucial moment for Yemen,” he said, warning that a flare-up of fighting on the ground could derail the peace effort.
The UK on Monday will present a draft resolution to the Security Council to address the crisis in Yemen, Ambassador Karen Pierce said, as diplomatic efforts to end the war gathered pace.
The draft resolution is aimed at shoring up the UN push for peace talks and ensue access for humanitarian aid to millions in Yemen facing famine.
The Saudi-led coalition’s devastating war on Yemeni civilians has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Global pressure to end the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen has grown following the killing by Saudi agents of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which sparked global outrage.