Yemen dialogue begins in S. Arabia without Houthi rebels

RIYADH: Hundreds of Yemeni politicians and tribal leaders began talks on Sunday in Saudi Arabia on the future of their war-torn country as a five-day humanitarian ceasefire was set to expire, though Shia rebels there were not taking part.

The ceasefire, scheduled to end at 11pm, hasn`t halted fighting in Yemen between the rebels, known as Houthis, and those opposing them. The Houthis have rejected the main aim of the three-day talks the restoration of Yemen`s exiled president and the location of the negotiations in Saudi Arabia. The absence of the Houthis means the national dialogue is unlikely to end the violence, which saw the rebels seize the capital, Sanaa, in September and ultimately force President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile.

The rebels and the Saudi led coalition targeting them with air strikes have blamed each other for the ceasefire violations. The UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, opened the meeting in Riyadh by calling on all parties to ensure that the shaky cease fire leads to a lasting truce.

`I call on all parties to refrain from any action that disturbs the peace of airports, main areas and the infrastructure of transport,` said Ahmed, who delivered the speech on behalf of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Since late March, Saudi Arabia has led air strikes against the Houthis and allied military units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.-AP

Published in Dawn