UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh on Friday evening headed to Saudi capital Riyadh in an effort to persuade a Yemeni government delegation to take part in the planned second round of Kuwait-hosted hosted peace talks with the Shia Houthi militant group.
A source close to the talks, who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on speaking to media, told Anadolu Agency that delegations representing the Houthis and their primary ally, former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, had both already set out for Kuwait from Oman to participate in the talks, which had been slated to kick off Friday.
It remains uncertain until now, however, whether the UN envoy succeeded in convincing the government delegation to return to the negotiating table.
The Yemeni government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi continues to demand implementation of UN Resolution 2216 — which calls on the Houthis to lay down their arms and withdraw from cities they currently occupy — and the 2011 Gulf Initiative.
On Thursday, members of the government delegation declared that they would not take part in talks in Kuwait until their conditions were met.
Yemen has been rocked by chaos since late 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.
Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, pro-Hadi forces have since managed to reclaim large swathes of the country’s south — including provisional capital Aden — but have failed to retake Sanaa and other strategic areas.
In April of this year, the Yemeni government and the Houthis entered into UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait aimed at resolving the conflict, in which more than 6,400 people have been killed and another 2.5 million forced to flee their homes.
The negotiations, which were suspended last month for a two-week period, have largely failed to produce any breakthroughs.