UN-sponsored peace talks between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Houthi forces began in the Swedish town of Rimbo on Thursday, in a bid to end almost four years of war in Yemen.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom and United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths welcomed the two delegations for talks, the first since 2016.
Griffiths announced that the parties had agreed to sign an agreement “on the exchange of prisoners, detainees, the missing, the forcibly detained and individuals places under house arrest.”
“This is a huge tribute to those here present,” he added.
“It is now up to you, the Yemeni parties, to truly engage constructively and in good faith with Martin and this UN-led process. And you are in charge of your own future,” Wallstrom told the parties.
“It can be solved,” Griffiths said about the war. “It is resolvable, there is a way that we can resolve the conflict in the context of Security Council resolution, in the context of equity and justice and the aspirations of the Yemeni people.”
“Stopping the war is essential, but it is not a condition precedent to discussing how to resolve the conflict,” Griffiths continued. “We will continue to talk together about the prospect for a peaceful solution frankly irrespective of what happens on the battleground.”
Fighting between Saudi-led coalition forces and Houthi fighters flared up again around Hodeidah in November, despite the United Nations pushing for a resumption of peace talks.
UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva in September failed after the Houthi delegation didn’t show up for the consultations.