Yemen talks go down to the wire

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Houthi delegate Abdelqader Mourtada, left, and the Yemeni government delegate Brig. Gen. Asker Zaeel, shake hands during the peace talks near Stockholm. (AFP)
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Representatives of the Houthi militia delegation (L) and representatives of the Yemeni government’s delegation (R) pose for a picture with representatives from the office of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen and the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC) during the ongoing peace talks on Yemen held at Johannesberg Castle in Rimbo, north of Stockholm, Sweden, December 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2018
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Yemen talks go down to the wire

  • The two parties agreed that international flights would stop at a government-held airport for inspections before flying in or out of Sanaa

JEDDAH: Both sides in the Yemen conflict agreed on Wednesday to reopen Sanaa airport and resume oil and gas exports.

But agreement on the Red Sea port of Hodeidah and a cooperation deal on the crumbling economy remained elusive as the clock ticked down to the last day of talks.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due in Rimbo, Sweden, for Thursday’s closing round of consultations. Another round of talks has been tentatively scheduled for January.

A UN spokeswoman said both sides had received a “final package” of agreements on the status of Hodeidah, a political framework and shoring up the economy. “We hope to receive positive responses,” she said.

The two parties agreed that international flights would stop at a government-held airport for inspections before flying in or out of Sanaa. They have yet to agree on whether those inspections will be in Aden airport or Sayun.

Yemen’s Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed said there may not be enough time for full agreement on Hodeidah before the talks, the first in over two years, conclude on Thursday.

“We talked about it a lot but with the limited time we have, we can’t talk about all the points in this round. The important thing is to build confidence and then go into the details of the Hodeidah file,” he said.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths is trying to avert a full-scale assault on Hodeidah by Yemen government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition, and is asking both sides to withdraw from the city.

His proposal is for an interim entity to run the city and port and for the deployment of international monitors.

Both sides have agreed to a UN role in the port, but differ on who should run the city. The Iran-backed Houthi miitias want Hodeidah declared a neutral zone, but Yemen’s government argues it is a matter of sovereignty.

“The devil is in the details — withdraw how far from Hodeidah, the sequence, who governs and delivers services,” said one diplomat.


Iran denies allegations of spying on German army

Updated 47 min 11 sec ago
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Iran denies allegations of spying on German army

  • Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office said last week that a 50-year-old German-Afghan dual citizen was detained
  • The suspect spied on the army for years and had access to highly classified material, including on German missions in Afghanistan

TEHRAN: Iran has dismissed allegations by German prosecutors that an army employee was spying for Tehran.
The semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying that “enemies” were aiming to “sour relations” between Iran and Europe.
He appeared to be referring to the United States and Israel, which have pressed European nations to withdraw from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office said last week that a 50-year-old German-Afghan dual citizen was detained in the western Rhineland region. The German Defense Ministry confirmed the allegations but declined to give any further details.
German news site Spiegel Online reported that the suspect spied on the army for years and had access to highly classified material, including on German missions in Afghanistan.