After a three-day delay, peace talks to end the yearlong civil war in Yemen will get underway Thursday in Kuwait, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary-general of the U.N., said in New York Wednesday. The talks, originally scheduled to start Monday, were delayed after Houthi representatives did not turn up, accusing the Yemeni government of violating a temporary ceasefire.
Negotiators from the Houthi group left for Kuwait Wednesday after receiving assurances that pro-government forces, backed by Saudi Arabia and other allies, would respect the ceasefire that took effect from April 10. The government delegation had arrived in Kuwait in time for the talks on Monday, and had threatened to pull out of the talks if they didn’t start Thursday.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the government said: “If the session does not begin tomorrow ... the delegation would be compelled to leave.”
The 13-month-old violence in Yemen has already claimed over 6,200 lives. The fighting in the country is between Iran-backed Houthis, who also have the support of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the forces controlled by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which are backed by a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia.
Houthi forces took control of capital Sanaa in September 2014 and now control most of northern Yemen. Hadi fled the country soon after, and is in exile in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis lead a coalition of nine Arab states, which also has logistical and intelligence support from the U.S. that intervened militarily to reinstate Hadi.