UN envoy holds ‘fruitful’ talks with Yemen Houthi chief

Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen, speaks during a press conference in the Yemeni capital Sanaa's international airport prior to his departure on July 4, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 04 July 2018
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UN envoy holds ‘fruitful’ talks with Yemen Houthi chief

  • Griffiths said he would brief the UN Security Council on Thursday on his latest talks in Yemen
  • In the coming days, the UN envoy is to meet President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi

The UN envoy for Yemen said Wednesday he had held “fruitful” talks with Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi in his bid to avert all-out fighting for the strategic port city of Hodeida.
“I’m greatly reassured by the messages I have received, which have been positive and constructive,” Martin Griffiths told reporters at Sanaa airport after two days of talks in the rebel-held capital.
“I’m especially thankful to Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, whom I met yesterday, for his support and the fruitful discussion we held.”
Griffiths said he would brief the UN Security Council on Thursday on his latest talks in Yemen.
In the coming days, the UN envoy is to meet President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
“All parties have not only underscored their strong desire for peace but have also engaged with me on concrete ideas for achieving peace,” Griffiths said.
Hodeida is the latest battleground in the Yemeni conflict, which has killed nearly thousands of people since 2015 and pushed the country to the brink of famine.
The Red Sea port provides a lifeline for the 22 million Yemenis dependent on humanitarian aid and is also the point of entry for three-quarters of the country’s commercial imports.
The government and its allies in a regional coalition accuse the Iran-backed militia of receiving smuggled weapons through Hodeida and have demanded their unconditional withdrawal from the city, which they have held since 2014.


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 3 min 44 sec ago
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.