AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg has visited Iran to drum up support for the diplomatic push to bring about peace in Yemen and renew the UN-brokered truce.
The envoy’s office said on Twitter on Monday that Grundberg met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other Iranian officials to discuss the launch of more inclusive peace negotiations between Yemen’s warring groups to end the country’s eight-year war.
“Discussions tackled the need for regional support for the start of an inclusive, Yemeni-led political process under UN auspices to sustainably end the conflict. During meetings, Grundberg stressed that ending the conflict in Yemen is important for enhancing regional security.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that Amir-Abdollahian emphasized his country’s support for the truce, UN-led efforts to establish peace in Yemen and an end to Yemen’s “inhumane blockade.”
The ministry said on its website: “Amir-Abdollahian said the Islamic Republic of Iran backs any negotiations which would help establish peace and stability in Yemen.”
The Yemen envoy and his predecessor often made trips to Iran when the Houthis failed to cooperate with UN attempts to establish peace.
This time, Grundberg’s visit to Tehran coincided with early indications that the UN-brokered prisoner swap between the Yemeni government and the Houthis in Switzerland may fail, as the militia has refused to consider swapping all prisoners and forcibly disappeared people, or to at least include four abducted journalists facing execution.
Since October, the Houthis have refused to renew the truce or ease their siege of Taiz, and have insisted on intensifying drone attacks on oil facilities if the Yemeni government fails to pay public employees in militia-controlled areas and share oil sale revenues.
Yemeni government officials say that Iran is the only country with significant influence over the Houthis and the ability to persuade them to cease sabotaging peace attempts led by Grundberg.
“The Houthi militia’s decision is not in their hands, but in Iran’s,” Information Counselor at the Yemeni Embassy in Cairo Baligh Al-Mekhlafi told Arab News, adding: “Only Iran has the power to sway the Houthi’s decision.”
Although applauding Iran and Saudi Arabia’s peace agreement, the Yemeni government has asked the former to demonstrate its commitment to ending the war by ceasing military support for the Houthis and pressuring the militia to comply with the peace initiative.
“We hope that the peace deal would open a fresh opportunity for resolving Yemen’s delayed peace process by convincing the Houthi group to engage in direct and unconditional negotiations to end this war,” Al-Mekhlafi said.