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Yemen peace talks break down

August 1, 2016

The Yemeni delegation walked out of the talks in Kuwait, but have said they'll return if Houthi rebels agree to a UN deal. The rebels have put forth their own deal, which calls for a national unity government.

Peace protesters in Yemen.
Image: Getty Images/AFP/A. Al-Basha

The Yemeni delegation said that its departure on Monday did not signal a complete abandonment of negotiations.

"We now leave Kuwait... but are not quitting the consultations and not ending them before August 7," Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, who is heading the delegation, said, referring to the end date set by the UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

The talks began in April but have so far failed to end Yemen's conflict.

Yemen - Hope for peace?

"We will return any minute ... if the other side agrees to sign" the UN proposal, Minister Mikhlafi told reporters before flying out of Kuwait Airport.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels and their allies, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's loyalists, rejected the peace plan, saying it was incomplete.

Houthi negotiators slammed

The foreign minister also slammed the rebels for turning down the peace offering.

"This Houthi-Saleh alliance will never accept any peace deal that does not legitimize their coup," Mikhlafi said.

The Yemeni delegation chose to return to Saudi Arabia after a meeting with the UN envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, according to Mikhlafi.

The draft plan calls for the rebels to withdraw from three major cities, including the capital Sanaa, hand over heavy arms and return state institutions they seized in September 2014, according to the government.

But the rebels rejected that plan and offered a counter proposal calling for a national unity government to be formed, with a new consensus president appointed to oversee the transition.

Yemen is home to what the United States sees as al Qaeda's deadliest franchise. The country descended into chaos and civil war after the 2012 ouster of longtime strongman, President Saleh.

Security deteriorated further after Houthi rebels overran Sanaa and pushed south, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government to flee into exile in March 2015.

The fighting has left more than 6,400 people dead, including hundreds of children, and displaced 2.8 million over the past 16 months, according to the UN, when a Saudi-led Arab coalition launched a military campaign in support of Hadi.

bik/kms (Reuters, AFP)