Yemen govt delegation departs for Sweden peace talks

The departure of the delegation headed by Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani followed the arrival in Sweden of the militia negotiating team. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 December 2018
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Yemen govt delegation departs for Sweden peace talks

  • The first Yemen peace talks since 2016 are the best chance yet to end the war, analysts say
  • The delegation of the Saudi-backed government was carrying the “hopes of the Yemeni people to achieve sustainable peace”

RIYADH: A Yemeni government delegation flew out of the Saudi capital Riyadh early Wednesday for high-stakes talks in Sweden with Houthi militia aimed at ending the country’s devastating war, sources close to the team told AFP.
The departure of the 12-member delegation headed by Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani followed the arrival in Sweden of the rebel negotiating team.
The first Yemen peace talks since 2016 are the best chance yet to end the war, analysts say, as the international community throws its weight behind resolving the devastating conflict.
The delegation of the Saudi-backed government was carrying the “hopes of the Yemeni people to achieve sustainable peace”, tweeted Abdullah al-Alimi, the head of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s office.
He added that the team would make efforts for the success of the talks, which are a “real chance for peace”.
The Houthi militia delegation arrived in Stockholm from Sanaa on Tuesday following a prisoner swap deal and the evacuation of 50 wounded insurgents for treatment in Oman in a major boost to peace efforts.
Their team was accompanied by UN envoy Martin Griffiths.
Although no date has been announced for the start of the negotiations, Yemeni government sources say they could begin on Thursday.
A previous UN-brokered attempt to bring the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government to the negotiating table collapsed in Switzerland in September.


Israel army says delegation heading to Russia over Lebanon ops

Updated 11 December 2018
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Israel army says delegation heading to Russia over Lebanon ops

  • The Kremlin said on Saturday that Netanyahu had called Putin to discuss the operation against alleged Hezbollah tunnels
JERUSALEM: An Israeli army delegation will head to Moscow on Tuesday to brief their Russian counterparts on operations to destroy Hezbollah tunnels from Lebanon, the military said.
“An Israeli army delegation composed of senior officers and led by the head of army operations, General Aharon Haliva, will fly to Moscow on Tuesday,” the military said in a statement.
“During the day-long visit, the delegation will brief their Russian counterparts on Operation Northern Shield and other operational issues,” said the statement issued on Monday.
The announcement came after a telephone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Israel on Wednesday launched an operation — dubbed Northern Shield — aimed at destroying alleged Hezbollah “attack tunnels” infiltrating its territory from Lebanon.
Ties between Israel and Russia have been strained since the accidental downing of one of Moscow’s transport planes on September 17 by Syrian ground batteries killed 15 service personnel.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the incident on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian plane for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defenses with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system.
The Kremlin said on Saturday that Netanyahu had called Putin to discuss the operation against alleged Hezbollah tunnels.
During the conversation, Putin stressed “the need to ensure stability along the dividing line between Israel and Lebanon,” according to Russia’s embassy in Israel.
Netanyahu for his part reaffirmed Israel’s policy of preventing the establishment of an Iranian presence in Syria and to “act against the aggression of Iran and Hezbollah.”
Israel occupied parts of Lebanon for 22 years until 2000, and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement claimed credit for its withdrawal following persistent guerrilla attacks.
The two countries are still technically at war but the border has remained relatively calm in recent years.
Russia is fighting on the same side as Iran and Hezbollah in support of President Bashar Assad in Syria.