Europe News

Yemen peace talks postponed, U.N. says

Slideshow ( 2 images )

GENEVA (Reuters) - A round of United Nations-brokered Yemen peace talks will not begin on Jan. 14 as planned but may take place a week or more later, U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Muslim allies has been fighting the Shi’ite Houthi movement, which controls the capital, since March of last year. Nearly 6,000 people are known to have died.

The warring parties agreed last month on a broad framework for ending their war but a temporary truce was widely violated and has since ended.

Last week, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has joined forces with the Houthis, said he would not negotiate with the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, throwing into doubt the fate of the peace talks.

After the December round of talks, U.N. Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he would bring the two sides together again on Jan. 14, with Switzerland and Ethiopia both mentioned as possible locations.

But a meeting this week is no longer on the table.

“He is looking at a date after Jan 20,” Fawzi said. “It’s taking him some time to get the parties to agree on a location.”

“He wants to go for a location in the region. So his first option is to find a location acceptable to all parties in the region, but he has Switzerland of course in the back of his mind as an option.”

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Tom Heneghan