negotiators to form ceasefire committee as U.N. peace talks resume
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[December 19, 2015]
DOHA (Reuters) - Yemeni negotiators
taking part in U.N.-sponsored peace talks agreed on Saturday to form a
committee to oversee a fragile ceasefire after fresh fighting imperiled
their efforts to end Yemen's civil war, sources close to the talks told
They said the committee would be headed by a Lebanese army general
and consist of representatives from the Saudi-backed government of
Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and from the rival Houthi
movement, which is allied to Iran.
Both sides arrived at a hotel in the Swiss city of Biel on Saturday
to attend a fifth day of talks aimed at halting the eight-month
conflict in the Arab world's poorest nation, which has killed
thousands of people and caused widespread destruction and a major
A supposed one-week truce came under strain on Friday when troops
loyal to Hadi seized an important northwestern city and a military
base from Houthis who still control the capital Sanaa, residents and
tribal sources said.
Planes and gunboats from a Saudi-led military coalition also
bombarded targets in northern Yemen, residents said.
The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen voiced deep concern at
"numerous reports of violations of the cessation of hostilities", a
U.N. statement said on Friday.
Yemen, which was swept by mass Arab Spring-inspired protests in
2011, was this year plunged into war after the Houthis overthrew the
Sanaa government, prompting Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in
March to launch a wide-scale bombing campaign.
The U.N. talks started away from television cameras on Tuesday and
have been marked by distrust, with each side accusing the other of
violating the truce.
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Face-to-face talks between Hadi's government and the Houthi group
have not occurred since Wednesday evening, after the Houthis
rejected demands for the release of detained senior officials,
including Yemen's defense minister and Hadi's brother, said sources
close to the talks.
The U.N. special envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, is shuttling
between the two sides to try and bridge differences.
The Houthis say they are ready to free the prisoners once a
permanent ceasefire is agreed, another source close to the talks
Hospital sources said on Saturday that limited medical aid had
reached a few Houthi-controlled districts in the central city of
Taiz, one of the worst-affected cities.
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari. Writing by Tom Finn; Editing by Mark
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