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UN mediator in Yemen to press for peace talks

Filed on December 5, 2015
UN mediator in Yemen to press for peace talks
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

(AP file)

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is seeking the agreement of President Hadi to convening the talks in Geneva on December 12.

The UN mediator travelled on Saturday to Aden in south Yemen to press for the government and Houthi rebels to open long-delayed peace talks in Geneva on December 12, a Yemeni official said.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was to meet with President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has declared the port city of Aden Yemen's provisional capital following the rebels' capture of Sanaa and other regions of the country over the past year.

"Mr Ould Cheikh Ahmed is seeking the agreement of President Hadi to convening the talks in Geneva on December 12," a senior official close to the president said.

"But this mission will be difficult," said the source, accusing the rebels of dragging their feet on implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls for them to withdraw from occupied territory.

And Foreign Minister Abdel Malak Al Mekhlafi said: "The putschists are refusing to lay down their arms or to allow the government to carry out its duties" from Sanaa.

"They have not announced their list of negotiators" for the talks "and are trying to escalate the situation on the ground by bombing residential districts of Taez," a strategic city in southwest Yemen under siege by the rebels and their allies, he said.

In a protest sent to the United Nations, Yemen's minister in charge of human rights, Ezzedine Al Isbahi, condemned the "massacres and atrocities" allegedly committed in Taez by the rebels that he said had killed 33 civilians last week, including four children.

The foreign minister, for his part, denounced the Houthis and their allies for having filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in Sanaa against Hadi and his aides over their request for a Saudi-led military intervention that had "damaged the independence" of Yemen.

More than 5,700 people have been killed in Yemen, almost half of them civilians, since a Saudi-led air campaign was launched in March in support of the government, according to the United Nations.

In Aden, meanwhile, gunmen shot dead the presiding judge of a terrorism court, Mohsen Mohamed Alwan, and four of his bodyguards, a security source said, while Police Colonel Al Khadher Ali Ahmed was gunned down in a separate attack.

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