Saleh Welcomes Swiss Peace Talks

Saleh Welcomes Swiss Peace Talks
Saleh Welcomes Swiss Peace Talks

The party of Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh on Tuesday welcomed UN-brokered peace talks due to open in Switzerland at the weekend.

The General People’s Congress said it had not yet received a formal invitation from the United Nations but the UN envoy met with party representatives in the Houthi-controlled capital in late May as part of his efforts to convene the talks in Geneva.

The GPC “welcomes holding the Geneva conference for consultations between Yemeni political components without any preconditions from any group, with goodwill and under the patronage of the UN,” its website said, AFP reported.

The peace talks are due to open in Geneva on Sunday afternoon. They had initially been scheduled for May 28 but were postponed after Yemen’s fugitive president Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi demanded Houthi forces to withdraw from Sanaa. They will last two to three days and be held mostly behind closed doors, according to UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi.

Saleh had proposed Geneva as the venue for the talks as a compromise between the Houthi stronghold Sanaa and the Saudi capital Riyadh, where exiled Hadi has taken refuge. A Saudi-led coalition launched an air campaign across Yemen on March 26 to restore Hadi to power. On Tuesday, coalition airstrikes targeted positions in the capital before dawn, witnesses said. Residents also reported airstrikes in the city of Taiz and the eastern oil province of Marib.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who will attend the opening, has urged all sides to join the talks without preconditions in a bid to end a conflict which has killed more than 2,000 people since March.