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

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. 


Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

Updated 25 January 2020

Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

  • President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats
  • The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis met Iraq’s president on Saturday and the two agreed that the country’s sovereignty must be respected, following attacks on Iraqi territory this month by the United States and Iran.
President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, its foreign minister.
The talks “focused on the challenges the country currently faces and on the importance of promoting stability and the reconstruction process, encouraging the path of dialogue and the search for suitable solutions in favor of citizens and with respect for national sovereignty,” a Vatican statement said.
On Jan. 8, Iranian forces fired missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing US troops in retaliation for Washington’s killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike a Baghdad airport on Jan. 3.
The Iraqi parliament has passed a resolution ordering the 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq to leave the country.
Soon after the Iranian attack, Francis urged the United States and Iran to avoid escalation and pursue “dialogue and self-restraint” to avert a wider conflict in the Middle East.
The pope discussed the Middle East with US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday.
The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year.
The Vatican said the pope and Salih also discussed “the importance of preserving the historical presence of Christians in the country.”
The Christian presence in Iraq and some other countries in the Middle East has been depleted by wars and conflicts.
Iraq’s several hundred thousand Christians suffered particular hardships when Daesh controlled large parts of the country, but have recovered.