Coalition committed to political solution

Yemeni govt representatives expected to join talks in Sweden

Police cars are seen in front of Johannesberg Castle, in Rimbo, Sweden, Wednesday. — Reuters

Saudi Gazette report

— Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid Bin Salman said on Wednesday that the Arab Coalition was and continues to remain committed to a political solution in Yemen despite the pro-Iranian militias’ procrastination.

He said in a tweet that the Coalition supporting the legitimate government in Yemen has “succeeded in accomplishing many goals of the military operation and always asserted the need to force the Houthi delegation to come to the negotiating table and implement international resolutions, especially UN Security Council Resolution 2216.”

Yemeni government representatives were expected to join a rebel delegation in Sweden for high-stakes peace talks.

A 12-member team from the government headed by Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani left for Sweden early Wednesday, a day after rebel delegates landed in Stockholm accompanied by the UN peace envoy.

The first Yemen talks since 2016 are widely seen as the best chance yet for peace, as the international community throws its weight behind efforts to resolve a conflict.

The government delegation was carrying the “hopes of the Yemeni people to achieve sustainable peace,” the head of President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi’s office, Abdullah Al-Alimi, said in a tweet.

The delegation had delayed its departure until the rebels had arrived in Stockholm after they failed to show up for the last UN bid to convene peace talks in September, sources close to the government said.

The rebels’ arrival followed two major confidence-boosting gestures — a prisoner swap deal and the evacuation of 50 wounded insurgents from the rebel-held capital for treatment in Oman.

The US State Department hailed the peace talks in Sweden as a “necessary and vital first step” and called on all parties to “cease any ongoing hostilities.”

No date has been announced for the start of the negotiations, but Yemeni government sources said they could begin Thursday.

The announcement of a deal on Tuesday to swap hundreds of detainees was hailed by the International Committee of the Red Cross as “one step in the right direction toward the building of mutual trust”.

The ICRC will oversee the exchange after the first round of talks in Sweden.

Yemeni government official Hadi Haig said between 1,500 and 2,000 pro-government personnel and between 1,000 and 1,500 rebels would be released. — With agencies