UN envoy multiplies contacts on Yemen, will go to Riyadh

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Sanaa (AFP) – UN envoy Martin Griffiths, who is preparing the ground for a revival of the war-torn Yemen peace process, met with the rebels again in Sanaa on Saturday before seeing Monday. in Ryad representatives of power.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, recognized by the international community, and several members of his government live in exile in neighboring Saudi Arabia, which has been intervening militarily since 2015 in Yemen to help power against Houthi rebels.

The Hadi government sits in Aden, the big city of southern Yemen, after being chased the same year by the pro-Iranian Houthis of the capital Sanaa.

On mission since Wednesday in Yemen, where he traveled to Sanaa and Hodeida, the main frontline of the war, Griffiths will travel to the Saudi capital Ryad to hold talks Monday with officials of the Hadi government, a source on Saturday said. UN.

The UN envoy left Sanaa airport on Saturday afternoon to an unspecified place and made no statements to the journalists.

Appointed in February to try to find a solution to the conflict in Yemen that has killed 10,000 people since 2015 and caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world according to the UN, Griffiths is seeking to hold peace consultations in Sweden.

He did not set a date for this new round of talks, but the United States, a close ally of the Saudis, said it would be held in principle at the beginning of December.

On Saturday, Mr. Griffiths met in Sanaa Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, leader of the Supreme Revolutionary Council of Rebels. The latter said he hoped "the visit (of Mr. Griffiths) to Ryad will conclude with positive results", claiming to aspire "to a just peace".

– "You dream" –

In the other camp, the spokesman of the Yemeni government on Friday accused the rebels of "not having made until then the strategic and serious choice of peace", saying that the latter "would not give up their weapons. "

In previous power-rebel talks, the Houthis refused to talk about surrendering weapons or turning into a political party, spokesman Rajeh Badi said. "They told us: 'you dream, we will never give up our weapons'".

Mr Badi added that his government, which has already announced its participation in the consultations in Sweden, has not yet received any information from Mr Griffiths "on the topics to be discussed in Sweden".

Despite the difficulties of his task, the UN envoy seemed to make progress by asserting Friday in Hodeida (west), that he was visiting for the first time, to have obtained an agreement from the rebels for negotiations on a " major role of the United Nations in the port and beyond ".

This port, which was threatened by the fighting, is vital for the delivery of almost all imports and aid to Yemen, a country on the verge of starvation. According to the UN, 14 million people live in pre-famine.

"The world's attention is on Hodeida," said the envoy who met with Houthi rebel leader Abdel Malik al-Houthi in Sanaa on Thursday.

Under international pressure, a truce in the fighting has been generally respected for ten days in this city in the hands of the rebels and the pro-government forces, backed by a military coalition under Saudi command, have been trying to recapture for months at the cost of fighting. murderers.

– "Good intentions" –

After an intensification of the offensive to retake Hodeida, the Loyalists marked November 13 a pause in military operations to promote peace efforts.

The situation in Hodeida is attracting the attention of the international community, which is alarmed by the risks of widespread famine in the country as hostilities continue.

A prominent rebel leader had urged his supporters to stop military operations to show their "good intentions".

The latest UN-brokered talks in Geneva in September had failed, as the rebels had not made the move, saying they feared for their safety.

In March 2015, Sunni Saudi Arabia took the lead in the coalition to help power stop a Houthi advance, backed by Iran, the rival Shiite regional power of the Saudi kingdom.

Yemen is today almost split in two, with Loyalists controlling the south and much of the center while rebels hold Sanaa and the north and much of the west.