The United Nations says it is planning to open peace talks on Yemen in mid-December, by which time the warring sides are expected to implement a humanitarian truce to ease the hostilities in the war-torn country.
The UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said on Monday that the talks will kick off on December 15 in Switzerland in a bid to end a nine-month Saudi war which has killed over 7,500 people.
Ould said he had met with officials from the ruling Houthi Ansarullah movement in the Omani capital of Muscat and have gained their approval for the agenda of the negotiations.
Mohammed Abdulsalam, the spokesman for the Houthis, confirmed that the movement had discussed “the venue and the date for the talks” with Ould, saying, “Ways for a ceasefire and subsequent confidence-building steps were also discussed, and we expressed our openness to conduct a responsible and serious dialogue.”
Ould said he had also discussed the talks with Abd Rabbuah Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s fugitive former president. Saudi Arabia has been carrying out unrelenting airstrikes against the Yemeni population in order to undermine the Houthis and restore Hadi to power.
An official from Hadi’s office said he and the Houthis have also agreed on a humanitarian ceasefire before the talks, saying steps will also be taken to free prisoners and lift the siege on the cities.
Yemen has been under the crippling Saudi air and sea blockade since Riyadh started its attacks on March 26. Yemeni monitoring groups say the aggression has killed more than 7,500 people with most of them civilians while the United Nations puts the death toll at 6,000, saying around 1,000 women and children have been killed as a result of the attacks.