UN envoy sets Yemen peace talks for September 6 in Geneva

The UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths plans to invite warring parties to Geneva on Sept. 6 to discuss the framework for peace talks
Updated 02 August 2018
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UN envoy sets Yemen peace talks for September 6 in Geneva

  • Martin Griffiths says talks will discuss framework for further negotiations
  • UN efforts have 'narrowed the gap' between the two sides

NEW YORK: The UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths plans to invite warring parties to Geneva on Sept. 6 to discuss a framework for peace talks.

Addressing a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, Griffiths said the talks would also discuss confidence-building measures to end the conflict.

The last attempt to resolve the conflict through talks took place in Kuwait in 2016, but the negotiations collapsed after the Houthi militia rejected a UN peace plan.

Griffiths said his efforts in Yemen had enabled the UN to "narrow the gap between the parties" involved in the conflict.

"I am very conscious that each day costs lives which might have been saved," Griffiths said.

Earlier, Griffiths met with the UN ambassadors of the Saudi-led Arab coalition countries, including the UAE.

"The UAE continues to fully support  Mr Griffiths in his efforts to advance a settlement and enforce Security Council resolution 2216," the UAE mission to the UN tweeted. 

 

Griffiths has recently been shuttling between the warring parties to avert a coalition assault on Hodeidah, Yemen's largest port which is still held by the Houthis but surrounded by pro-government forces.

"We have tried to find a way to avoid a battle for the city and the port of Hodeidah and we are still trying," Griffiths told the council.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council: "We've hit a new sense of urgency in Yemen."

"If this is what's starting to happen, civilians are at risk, infrastructure is at risk and we as the international community have to demand that the two parties come together and understand the seriousness of this," Haley said.

She also again accused Iran of supporting the Houthis and condemned the Houthi missile attacks, which have targeted Saudi Arabia.

Asharq Al-Awsat, the sister newspaper of Arab News, reported early on Thursday that Griffiths was planning to convene the talks. The report said he was expected to use a different approach to his predecessor Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who stepped down after failing to make headway in ending the conflict.

The first round of Yemen talks were held in 2015 in Switzerland before moving to Kuwait in 2016.

The war in Yemen was ignited in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa and forced the internationally recognized governmnet to flee. The militia then launched an offensive to capture the rest of the country from pro-government forces, sparking Saudi Arabia to lead an Arab coalition to restore the  government to power.

UN figures suggest at least 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict, while a further 2 million have been displaced. 


Iran says navy mounts new defense system on warship

Updated 18 August 2018
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Iran says navy mounts new defense system on warship

  • The US military’s Central Command confirms it has seen increased Iranian naval activity
  • Iran has developed a large domestic weapons industry to achieve self-sufficiency

DUBAI: Iran’s navy has mounted a locally built advanced defensive weapons system on one of its warships for the first time, the Iranian navy chief was quoted as saying on Saturday, as tensions mount with the US military in the Gulf.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed earlier this month it held war games in the Gulf, saying they were aimed at “confronting possible threats” by enemies.
The US military’s Central Command confirmed it had seen increased Iranian naval activity, extending to the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments the Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block.
Iran has been furious over US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and re-impose sanctions on Tehran.
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi “reiterated that coastal and sea testing of the short range defense Kamand system were concluded successfully, and said this system was mounted ... on a warship and will be mounted on a second ship soon,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported,
The Kamand has been dubbed the “Iranian Phalanx” after an automated machine gun produced by US firm Raytheon whose heavy bullets shred incoming missiles.
Unable to import many weapons because of international sanctions and arms embargoes, Iran has developed a large domestic weapons industry to achieve self-sufficiency in producing military equipment, and often reports on its development of arms which it says are comparable with advanced Western systems.