UN envoy says 'deep divisions' blocking Yemen talks

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES, Carole Landry- Yemen's warring parties are unable to agree on terms for a new round of peace talks, two months after holding their first face-to-face meeting, the UN envoy said Wednesday.
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told the UN Security Council that "deep divisions persist that prevent me from calling for the next round of talks."

Yemen's Saudi-backed government sat down with Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies in December to begin talks on ending a war that has brought the impoverished Arab country to its knees.
The UN-brokered negotiations held in Switzerland were to resume in mid-January, but that meeting was delayed and no new date has been announced.
The UN envoy said the parties were divided on "whether a new round of talks should be convened with or without a new cessation of hostilities" and were not willing to offer sufficient guarantees that a truce would hold.
Confidence-building measures such as prisoner exchanges that were agreed to during the first round have yet to be implemented, he said.
"We cannot delay these talks beyond, in my view, the month of March," the envoy told reporters.
More than 6,000 people have been killed in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition began an air war in March last year to push back an offensive by the Huthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa.
A ceasefire went into force on December 15, but it was repeatedly violated and the Saudi-led coalition announced an end to the truce on January 2.
- 'Unspeakable tragedy' -
Ould Cheikh Ahmed cited a "significant increase" in the number of missiles fired by rebels across the border into Saudi Arabia and an upsurge in attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda affiliates and the Islamic State group.
A suicide bomber killed at least 14 soldiers in Aden on Wednesday, in the latest attack on Yemen's second city claimed by IS jihadists.
"Many parts of Yemen are again witnessing airstrikes and extensive ground fighting," said the envoy.
Alongside Syria and Iraq, Yemen ranks as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with some 82 percent of the country's population in dire need of food, medicine and other aid.
The UN envoy urged the Security Council to push for a halt to the fighting to pave the way to a permanent ceasefire and return to peaceful negotiations.
"Yemen has suffered greatly, and its people have withstood an unspeakable tragedy," he said.
The envoy rejected Saudi claims that a UN-chartered aid ship bound for Yemen was diverted to a Saudi port because it was carrying communications equipment that could be used for military purposes.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the equipment was to be used by UN staff to help protect their security.
The MV Mainport Cedar was travelling from Djibouti to Yemen's Red Sea port of Hodeida when it was diverted to Jazan in southwest Saudi Arabia last Thursday, the World Food Program said.

Thursday, February 18th 2016
Carole Landry

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