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UN Envoy says Yemen peace talks in Kuwait to go on

Reuters Friday, April 22nd 2016 11:08 PM

The United Nations envoy overseeing Yemen's peace talks said Friday that negotiations would go on, with both sides seeking an end to the fighting.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed also said there was no plan to move the talks, which were held Thursday and Friday in Kuwait City's Bayan Palace, to Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. He said the talks would become more specific in the future, signaling that this round of negotiations likely was over.

"All stakeholders express their eagerness to implement a (fuller) cease-fire, including the Saudi side," Ahmed told journalists at a rowdy news conference. "There are many loopholes, however, and we are working on reaching an agreement from all parties in that regard."

Ahmed did not elaborate. Both sides in the fighting have violated a fragile cease-fire that began April 10.

A Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition supporting Yemen's internationally recognized government is battling Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies.

The Houthis have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since September 2014, and their advance across the Arab world's poorest country brought the Saudi-led coalition into the war in March 2015.

In over a year since, the war has killed nearly 9,000 people - a third of them civilians, according to the U.N.

Airstrikes account for 60 percent of the civilians killed in the conflict, according to a Jan. 26 U.N. report. The world body has criticized coalition strikes that have hit markets, clinics and hospitals.

The war has taken on regional implications, as Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia accuses regional Shiite rival Iran of arming and training the Houthis. Iran says it only provides the rebels with political support, though the U.S. Navy says its sailors and allies have seized weapons heading for Yemen from Iran. The Houthis themselves have tried to distance themselves from Iran.

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