AMMAN: Yemen’s warring sides started talks on Wednesday in the Jordanian capital Amman about a deal to free thousands of prisoners as part of UN-led peace efforts, two UN sources said.
Delegates from the Iran-backed Houthi militia and the Yemeni government had arrived in Amman earlier. They will discuss the implementation of a deal agreed in UN-led talks in Sweden in December that would allow thousands of families to be reunited.
“The meetings of the two sides with us began,” a UN source not authorized to speak publicly told Reuters.
Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to an Arab military coalition backing the government, had pressed the two sides to agree on confidence-building steps to pave the way for a wider truce and a political process to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people.
The deal to free prisoners was part of confidence-building measures that included a plan to withdraw from the contested port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions facing famine, and place it under the control of an interim entity.
The two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap agreed at the start of the Sweden talks and delegates said it would be conducted via the militant-held Sanaa airport in north Yemen and the government-held Sayun airport in the south.
The process would be overseen by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The operation will require the Arab coalition to guarantee that air space is secure for flights, the ICRC said.