Houthis head for delayed Yemen peace talks

Negotiators from Yemen’s Houthi group and their allies have left the capital Sanaa for delayed UN-backed peace talks in Kuwait with the Yemeni government.

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The talks to end the year-long war were meant to start on Monday but representatives of the Iran-allied Houthi group and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh did not turn up.

They accused the Yemeni government and its military allies led by Saudi Arabia of violating a temporary cease fire, including with air strikes that had killed at least two civilians.

They also said the agenda of the Kuwait meeting had been altered without consulting them.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed the talks would begin on Thursday.

Talks to end the war that has killed at least 6200 people and caused a humanitarian crisis, are expected to focus on creating a more inclusive government and restoring state authority over the country, which is now divided between the Houthis and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s administration.

Yemen’s government has also accused the Houthis of violating the truce and said on Wednesday it was running out of patience with the other side.

“If the session does not begin tomorrow … the delegation would be compelled to leave,” it said in a statement published on Yemen’s Sabanew agency.

Mahdi al-Mashat, a senior Houthi official, said on Tuesday his group had received assurances that the cease fire would be upheld and the peace talks agenda would “reflect the issues that are likely to lead to peaceful solutions to end the status quo”.

The talks’ delay prompted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the five permanent Security Council members to intervene.

Sources at Sanaa airport said 14 delegates representing the Houthi’s Ansarullah group and Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC), were seen boarding an Omani plane.

They were expected to change planes in Muscat before continuing on to Kuwait, where delegates from Hadi’s government have been waiting since earlier this week for the talks to start.

An official spokesman for the Houthis confirmed on Facebook that representatives for the group were on their way to Kuwait.