Geneva: Yemen’s foreign minister accused Al Houthi militia on Saturday of “trying to sabotage the negotiations” that ended without their attendance in Geneva, saying that the UN envoy had not been firm enough with them.
Yemen’s Al Houthi movement failed to attend peace talks, but the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths said earlier that it did not represent a “fundamental blockage in the process” and that he would meet soon with their representatives in Sana’a and in Muscat, Oman.
Al Houthis overran the capital Sana’a and drove the legitimate government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile. An Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened on behalf to the government in 2015 and has been engaged in a war with the Iran-backed militia.
“We want the UN to be firmer in bringing the other party to the negotiations”, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khalid Al Yamani told a press conference before leaving the Swiss city, after three days of talks with Griffiths on confidence-building measures, including prisoner releases.
Al Yamani said the envoy’s comments sought to “appease and find excuses” for the Al Houthis. Their failure to travel to Geneva, he added, showcased their “irresponsibility.”
But Griffiths sought to downplay the significance of the failure of peace talks to start, saying that he would head back to Yemen “within days” to try and agree on a new date.
“We didn’t manage to get … the delegation from Sana’a to come here. We just didn’t make it,” Griffiths told reporters.
He said it was “too early to say when the next round of consultations will take place.”
A delegation of the Yemeni government arrived in Geneva for the talks, but the Iranian-backed militia did not, arguing they could not go because they did not have guarantees for their safe return.
Griffiths insisted that the “consultation” — the term used by the UN to refer to the talks — had begun when he and his team held three days of talks with the government delegation.
Griffiths hosted a number of meetings with the government delegation, which arrived in Geneva on Wednesday, and diplomats from countries with influence in Yemen’s bloody conflict.
Griffiths said the meetings were “fruitful consultations”, insisting that “we made some good progress … (on) confidence-building measures”.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have said they have already granted the Al Houthis clearance to fly, accusing the militia of intransigence.