UN Yemen envoy planning new talks in Sweden, welcomes news of ceasefire in Hodeidah

UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths has welcomed the news of a ceasefire in Hodeidah at a Security Council Meeting on Friday - and announced fresh talks in Sweden. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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UN Yemen envoy planning new talks in Sweden, welcomes news of ceasefire in Hodeidah

NEW YORK: UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths told a Security Council session on Friday that he intends to convene peace talks "shortly" in Sweden in a bid to end a war that has driven "millions to the brink of famine."

Griffiths also welcomed the news of a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeidah.

He added that the Saudi-led coalition backing the legitimate government of Yemen and the Houthi militia had shown a "renewed commitment" to work on a political solution and have given "firm assurances" that they will attend the talks, Martin Griffiths told the council.

"I will go to Sanaa next week ... I will also be happy to travel myself, if necessary, with the delegation to the consultations," Griffiths said. He is aiming to convene talks before the end of the year.

Griffith said he believed he was close to resolving preparatory issues to allow the talks in Sweden to happen.

"I am grateful to the coalition for agreeing our proposed logistical arrangements, and to the coalition and Oman for their agreement to facilitate the medical evacuation of some injured Yemenis out of Sanaa," he told the 15-member Security Council.

He also said: "We have to seize positive international momentum to resolve the Yemen crisis peacefully, we are working to bring together both sides of the conflict to resolve the crisis through dialogue."

Griffiths also said the parties were about to conclude an agreement on the exchange of prisoners and detainees.

Meanwhile, UN food chief David Beasley said on Friday that the situation in Yemen was "a catastrophe," and that there had to be immediate action to protect the Yemeni people, especially children, in the face of food shortages.


Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

Updated 42 min 58 sec ago
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Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

  • Israel reduced the fishing limit to 10 nautical miles
  • The countries agreed to 20 nautical miles in the Oslo accords of 1990s

JERUSALEM: Israel reduced the offshore fishing limits it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Thursday after Palestinians floated balloons fitted with incendiaries over the border, officials said.
The cut came just two days after Israel restored the limits to those set in April ahead of an Israeli general election.
“A decision was taken this Wednesday evening to reduce the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice,” said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
“The decision was taken after the launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel,” it added.
Palestinians in Gaza have frequently floated balloons fitted with firebombs over the border to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.
Israel banned fishing completely when two days of deadly violence erupted earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following a truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit that had been restored on Tuesday was the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities have not said whether the 15-mile limit was one of the understandings reached as part of the May 6 cease-fire in Gaza but Israel media reported on Monday that it was.
The additional nautical miles are important to Gaza fishermen as they bring more valuable, deeper water species within reach.
Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed in this month’s exchanges across the border.