Yemeni politicians say UN peace talks indefinitely postponed

May 25, 2015, 11:30 AM
Smoke rises after a Saudi-led airstrike targeted a military base in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, May 24, 2...
Smoke rises after a Saudi-led airstrike targeted a military base in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, May 24, 2015. Fighting raged on in Yemen on Sunday, with airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition hitting rebel targets in multiple cities, including the capital, while street battles in the city of Taiz killed several civilians. (Photo/Shohdi Alsofi)
(Photo/Shohdi Alsofi)

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A United Nations-sponsored Yemeni peace conference that was to start Thursday in Geneva has been indefinitely postponed, officials said, as battles raged across the country.

The talks were meant to end weeks of heavy fighting and Saudi-led airstrikes against an Iran-backed rebel group amid a humanitarian crisis that has left millions in the Arab world’s poorest country short of food and fuel.

Three officials from the Houthi, socialist and unionist parties said late Sunday they were notified the talks had been postponed and that no new date had been set. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

A U.N. official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and therefore also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the talks would be postponed.

The setback came as Saudi-led warplanes on Monday pounded Shiite Houthi rebel positions in the capital and across the country.

Heavy fighting continued in the city of Dhale, where witnesses and military officials said that fighters loyal to the exiled president managed to seize several military sites from the rebels, surrounding them in some areas and demanding they surrender. The officials, along with hospital workers, said that dozens were killed and some 70 were wounded.

In the city of Taiz, the officials said 13 civilians died and some 200 others were wounded after a truck carrying oil was hit by crossfire and caused a raging fire.

They added that in the capital, Sanaa, warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition struck a house owned by Ahmed Saleh, son of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied with the Houthi rebels, leaving it destroyed and in flames. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.

The U.N. had urged all parties to attend the talks, announced last week, without preconditions. But the exiled government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi reiterated its demand that the Houthis first pull out of cities and towns seized in recent months, including the capital, Sanaa.

The Houthis backed the talks and said they would participate. Houthi rebel leader Abdul-Malek al-Houthi had described talks as the only solution to the war. He boycotted an earlier conference hosted by Saudi Arabia, demanding that peace negotiations be held in a neutral country.

The talks were the first major initiative of the new U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who this month held meetings in Yemen with rival political players. Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, told reporters Thursday that Ahmed “believes he has the assurances he has to proceed” with the talks.

Saudi-led airstrikes began March 26. Fighting on the ground has pitted Hadi’s forces against the Houthis and military units loyal to Saleh.

The Saudi-led coalition has portrayed the Houthis as a proxy for an expansionist Shiite Iran. Iran supports the Houthis but denies arming them.

Warplanes had fired missiles overnight at several army camps and weapon depots in Sanaa, in the northern Houthi stronghold of Saada and in the southern city of Aden. The airstrikes came a day after some of the heaviest bombardment carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Sanaa.

The U.N. estimates that at least 1,037 civilians, including 130 women and 234 children, have been killed between March 26 and May 20. The cities of Saada and Aden have endured the most extensive damage to their infrastructure.

Humanitarian groups have said a five-day truce that ended last week was hardly enough to get aid in. The cease-fire was breached several times.

___

Associated Press writer Cara Anna in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

World News

A fisherman watches smoke rise after Russian forces launched a missile attack on a military unit in...
Associated Press

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters hit by drone strike

An explosive device carried by a makeshift drone blew up Sunday at the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean Peninsula.
8 days ago
Medical syringes are seen with 'Monkeypox' sign displayed on a screen in the backgound in this illu...
Associated Press

Monkeypox declared a global emergency by UN health agency

The expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global emergency.
16 days ago
Chinese paramilitary policemen march in front of the Japanese embassy where the Japanese flag is fl...
Associated Press

Japan’s ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated during a speech

TOKYO (AP) — Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated Friday on a street in western Japan by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech — an attack that stunned a nation with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere. The 67-year-old Abe, who was Japan’s […]
1 month ago
Firefighters hose down a burning car after a strike hit a residential area, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk ...
Associated Press

Russia taking ‘operational pause’ in Ukraine, analysts say

Analysts say Russia may be taking an "operational pause" in eastern Ukraine to reassemble forces for a significant offensive.
1 month ago
Prime Minister Boris Johnson enters 10 Downing Street, after reading a statement in London, Thursda...
Associated Press

One scandal too many: British PM Boris Johnson resigns

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation Thursday after droves of top government officials quit over the latest scandal to engulf him, marking an end to three tumultuous years in which he tried to bluster his way through one ethical lapse after another. Months of defiance ended almost with a shrug as […]
1 month ago
Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Yemeni politicians say UN peace talks indefinitely postponed