Stockholm, Dec 6 (IANS) Peace talks between the Yemeni government delegation and Houthi rebels will begin on Thursday in Sweden aiming to end nearly four years of civil war in the Middle-Eastern country.
A UN team will work alongside delegations from both sides rebels at Johannesbergs castle outside Stockholm to enable talks expected to last a week, the BBC reported.
Representatives of the internationally-recognized Yemeni government, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, flew to Sweden on Wednesday while UN special envoy Martin Griffiths accompanied the Iranian-backed Houthis to Stockholm.
Officials said the talks would be informal, through working groups.
“On some issues it will make sense for the two sides to sit together, on others they will discuss in separate groups,” the BBC reported citing officials.
The civil war in Yemen has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in recent times. Thousands of people died in fighting and millions were pushed to the brink of starvation.
Talks are taking place for the first time since 2016. The last attempt at a negotiated peace collapsed in September when the Houthis failed to show up in Geneva.
The UN, according to reports, hopes to come up with a framework for talks on what a future political solution in Yemen will look like.
Yemeni government representative Abdullah al-Alimi had earlier tweeted that the talks were “a true opportunity for peace”.
The head of the Houthi delegation, Mohammed Abdelsalam, vowed to “spare no effort to make a success of the talks” but also warned rebel fighters to remain “vigilant against any attempt at a military escalation”.
Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in early 2015, when the Houthis seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and seven other Arab states intervened in an attempt to restore the government after being alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as an Iranian proxy.
At least 6,660 civilians have been killed and 10,560 injured in the fighting, according to the UN.
Thousands more civilians died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health.