Yemen’s exiled government says to attend peace talks

Yemen’s government in exile has confirmed it will attend UN-mediated peace talks next week aimed at reaching a ceasefire with Iran-backed rebels who control swathes of the country.

In a statement yesterday, the internationally recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi said that a rebel pullback from areas seized since last year — as outlined by a UN resolution — remained a precondition to negotiations.

At a meeting in Riyadh, Yemeni government officials “approved their participation in talks aimed at implementing Resolution 2216,” the statement said.

The UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said yesterday that both the exiled government and the Huthi Shiite rebels had agreed to take part in negotiations that “will convene in the region next week”.

Hadi’s government called on Cheikh Ahmed to “strive for a clear, public commitment from the Huthis” and allied forces to withdraw from areas they have seized, including the Yemeni capital.

Previous diplomatic efforts to end Yemen’s more than five-month war failed to bear fruit and a Saudi-led coalition backing Hadi has waged near-daily air strikes against the rebels.

Today morning, powerful explosions hit the Al-Hassaba neighbourhood of the rebel-held capital, where an arms depot was targeted by coalition war planes, witnesses said.

The UN estimates that more than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict.