One day before his trip to the port city of Hodeidah, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Mr. Martian Griffiths has met today with the head of the Iran-backed Houthi militia to discuss details of upcoming peace negotiations in Sweden.
Griffiths, who landed in the Houthi-controlled capital of Sanaa yesterday is currently pushing for peace talks early in December in a bid to end the years-long civil war.
The UN envoy’s visit to Hodeidah on tomorrow on Friday is aimed at encouraging Iran-backed Houthi militia and the government forces backed by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition to tamp down hostilities ahead of the talks in Stockholm, a UN source said.
During their meeting, Martin Griffiths and the head of the Houthi militia Abdulmalik al-Houthi addressed “what can facilitate new discussions in December,” the militia’s spokesperson Mohammed Abdelsalam said on Twitter.
Abdelsalam said that included “procedures needed to transport injured and sick for treatment abroad and bring them back,” a key sticking point during a previous failed attempt at talks in September.
Al Houthi, head of the rebels’ Higher Revolutionary Committee and an influential political figure, said the rebels were ready for peace.
“We support peace. We are ready for peace if that is what they want,” he told reporters after also meeting Griffiths on Thursday.“I do not think anyone can doubt our desire for peace,” he said.
United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed on Wednesday peace discussions between the Houthis and the internationally-recognised government look set for “very, very early” in December.
He said Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates — which is also a key member of the military coalition supporting the loyalists — were “fully on board.”
Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah said that the talks may happen on Dec.3.
He added his country — which is currently a non-permanent UN Security Council member — will offer “logistical support” at Sweden’s request, but did not give any more details.
Mattis last month made a surprise call for a ceasefire in Yemen and urged warring parties to enter negotiations within the next 30 days. The UN has now pushed that deadline back to the end of the year.
Mattis’ latest comments came as the US State Department said talks must not be delayed any longer.
On Monday, Britain presented to the UN Security Council a draft resolution urging an immediate truce in Hodeida.