Yemen government sets conditions for Houthi talks

SANAA: Deputy prime minister and foreign minister Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi said the Iran-backed rebels must immediately stop all crimes committed against politicians and civilians in Yemen.

The rebels, who sparked the war in Yemen when they seized the capital in 2014, must also release all detainees and stop launching missiles, Al-Mekhlafi toldAsharq Al-Awsat.

The other conditions for talks include a call for the rebels to stop attacking and besieging cities and allowing humanitarian aid to reach civilians.

Al-Mekhlafi said the rebels must also back the three references for a political solution in Yemen, including the Gulf Initiative, outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue and Security Council Resolution 2216.

“The current situation stipulates the need for rebels to show good intention, as there will be no return for talks in the way they went before,” he said.

The minister stressed that Houthis have “proved they are no partners in peace, and are not ready to currently engage in peace”.

UN-sponsored talks in Kuwait in 2016 broke down with the two sides deadlocked and the Houthis and their then ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh were condemned for attempting to form a a political council to run the country.

Last year the Houthi’s alliance with Saleh crumbled, and the rebels killed the former president in December.

Al-Mekhlafi said the rebels’ unwillingness to find a political solution was also down to their backing by Iran.

“Iran considers the Houthis and their battle in Yemen as part of its war to control the Arab region, and therefore behave accordingly,” he said.

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