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

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.


Gulf countries announce measures to cut links with Iran as coronavirus cases rise in Middle East

Updated 24 min 12 sec ago

Gulf countries announce measures to cut links with Iran as coronavirus cases rise in Middle East

  • The UAE suspended all passenger and cargo flights to Iran
  • Kuwait has canceled celebrations for national holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday

DUBAI: Gulf countries announced new measures on Tuesday to cut links with Iran to prevent coronavirus spreading after the confirmation of 20 new cases, all of them people returning from the Islamic republic.

The UAE suspended all passenger and cargo flights to Iran after Kuwait and Bahrain announced the additional cases of COVID-19.

Over the past two days, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman have reported 29 cases of the novel coronavirus among people returning from pilgrimages to Iran, which is battling the deadliest outbreak outside China and where the death toll has reached 16.

Bahrain also announced 15 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number affected in the kingdom to 23 — including six Saudi women — after some of the people had returned from Iran via Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority “suspended all passenger flights and cargo to and from Iran starting today and for one week,” a statement carried by the official WAM news agency said, adding that the ban could be extended.

Also on Tuesday, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed tweeted that the UAE was ready to provide all forms of support to help China combat the spread of the virus.

Shortly after, the Bahraini authorities said citizens were banned from traveling to Iran “until further notice.”

In neighboring Kuwait, three new cases were recorded among Kuwaiti men who had been under quarantine after returning from Iran.

Oman, which on Monday reported its first cases of coronavirus in two Omani women who had returned from Iran, reported an additional two cases.

Muscat was making arrangements to bring back its citizens from the Islamic republic, the foreign ministry said, a day after it suspended all flights to and from Iran.

Oman also announced that it will suspend the import and export of goods from Iran from Wednesday.

The three countries have large Shiite Muslim populations who frequently travel to Iran to visit holy shrines.

The UAE has already announced 13 coronavirus cases, all foreigners, including an Iranian couple who had traveled from Iran.

Kuwait has canceled celebrations for national holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday and also scrapped all sports events to counter the spread of the disease.