UN Yemen envoy to visit battleground port ahead of peace talks

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SANAA: The United Nations envoy to Yemen will visit the Houthi-held battleground port city of Hodeidah this week, a UN source said Thursday, as he presses warring parties to uphold pledges to join peace talks.

Martin Griffiths, who arrived in Sanaa on Wednesday, was in the Arabian Peninsula country to lay the groundwork for next month’s negotiations in Sweden.

The conflict in Yemen has killed thousands and sparked what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

UN agencies say up to 14 million Yemenis would be at risk of starvation.

Both sides have in the past week expressed support for the envoy and his mission to hold discussions.

United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed on Wednesday peace discussions between the Houthis and the internationally-recognized government would take place early December.

“It looks like that very, very early in December, up in Sweden, we’ll see both the Houthi rebel side and the UN-recognized government, President (Abedrabbo Mansour) Hadi’s government, will be up there.”

Griffiths — whose efforts at kickstarting peace talks in September collapsed — is spearheading the biggest push in two years to end the war.

In September, a previous round of UN-led peace talks faltered when the Houthis refused to travel to Geneva.

Previous talks broke down in 2016, when 108 days of negotiations in Kuwait failed to yield a deal.

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