By Zakaria al-Kamali
SANAA (AA) – UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad has persuaded a Yemeni government delegation to take part in the planned second round of Kuwait-hosted peace talks with the Shia Houthi group, due to start later Saturday, according to a government source.
President Abdu Rabbuh Hadi Mansour met with his negotiators on Saturday to discuss the outcomes of his talks with Ould Cheikh for resuming the peace talks with the Houthis, the source told Anadolu Agency.
“The delegation decided to participate in the negotiations,” the source said anonymously due to restriction on speaking to media.
According to the source, the government delegation has already left Saudi capital Riyadh to Kuwait.
The government source said the new round of talks will focus on the Houthi withdrawal from cities, surrendering weapons and “arrangements for regaining state institutions”.
The UN envoy has presented a paper that the talks “will not tackle the formation of the government at present,” he said.
Yemen has been rocked by chaos since late 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.
In March of last year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive military campaign in Yemen aimed at reversing Houthi gains and restoring Hadi’s embattled government.
Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, pro-Hadi forces have since managed to reclaim large swathes of the country’s south — including provisional capital Aden — but have failed to retake Sanaa and other strategic areas.
In April of this year, the Yemeni government and the Houthis entered into UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait aimed at resolving the conflict, in which more than 6,400 people have been killed and another 2.5 million forced to flee their homes.
The negotiations, which were suspended last month for a two-week period, have largely failed to produce any breakthroughs.