According to a UN spokeswoman, discussions in Yemen’s capital Sanaa between Saudi and Omani delegations and the Houthi militia were “a positive move towards the de-escalation of tensions” in the war-torn country.
At a press conference in New York, Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, answered reporters’ questions about reports of progress towards a lasting ceasefire, which would end Saudi Arabia’s military involvement in a military coalition that has supported the internationally recognised government in its civil conflict with the Houthis since 2015, according to Xinhua news agency.
In parallel with UN efforts led by Special Envoy Hans Grundberg, who Dujarric said was continuing to “explore ways to extend and expand” a UN-brokered six-month truce that ended in October, neighbouring Oman has been involved in peace discussions with Yemen’s warring parties.
According to Grundberg’s statement last week, the truce “essentially holds” even after it expires, with several parts remaining in place.
The ambassador stressed the importance of increased humanitarian assistance, a statewide ceasefire, and a long-term political settlement “that satisfies the aspirations of Yemeni women and men” through a process that brings all parties together.
The conversations in Sanaa were “very much welcomed by the Secretary-General,” according to Dujarric, who added that Grundberg is still “in close coordination with the regional member states” on continuing the political process in the goal of averting an escalation in the long-running war.
The UN, according to the spokeswoman, was not participating in the negotiations in Yemen’s Houthi-controlled capital.
“We are not involved in every discussion, we don’t need to be,” he said.
“What is important is that all of these parties work towards the relevant Security Council resolution, the UN facilitated talks, and all signals are, that they are. But we will have to take things one day at a time.”
According to news sources, success in the Oman-mediated negotiations and improved possibilities for a Yemen peace accord added to the momentum supplied by the reopening of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a deal negotiated by China.
Since the battle between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels erupted in 2015, tens of thousands have killed, millions have been displaced, and relief agencies provided vital assistance to roughly 11 million people each month last year, amid what remains the world’s biggest humanitarian catastrophe.