Yemen's warring parties to meet in Geneva over prisoner swap

The negotiations will be overseen by UN and International Committee of the Red Cross



Published: Fri 10 Mar 2023, 10:02 PM

Last updated: Fri 10 Mar 2023, 10:04 PM

Yemen's warring parties will hold talks in Geneva starting Saturday to discuss a prisoner exchange, rebels and government officials have said.

The negotiations in Switzerland, overseen by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, will run for 11 days, said Majed Fadail, a member of the Yemeni government delegation.

The talks with Iran-backed Houthi rebels aim "to reach an understanding regarding the details" of a prisoner exchange, he told the official Saba news agency on Thursday.

It comes almost a year after the Houthis said they had agreed to a prisoner swap that would see 1,400 rebels freed in exchange for 823 pro-government fighters -- including 16 Saudis and three Sudanese nationals.

The warring parties have since held a series of talks in the Jordanian capital Amman that did not result in any developments.

In a Twitter post on Thursday, the leading Houthi delegate to the Geneva talks said he hoped the negotiations would yield concrete results.

"We hope that this round will be a decisive one," Abdul Qader Al Murtada said on Thursday.

The ICRC declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

The Houthi rebels took control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2014, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene on behalf of the Yemeni government the following year.

Since then, a grinding war has killed hundreds of thousands and pushed the impoverished nation to the brink of famine.

Fighting has largely been on hold since an UN-brokered ceasefire took effect in April last year, even after the agreement expired in October.

The last major prisoner swap was in October 2020, when a total of 1,056 prisoners were released by both sides, according to the ICRC.

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