'Hopeful start' to Yemen peace talks

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on December 6, 2018 - Duration: 01:37s

'Hopeful start' to Yemen peace talks

Yemen's warring sides agree to free thousands of prisoners, in what a U.N.

Mediator called a hopeful start to the first peace talks in years to end a war that has pushed millions of people on the verge of starvation.

Emily Wither reports.

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'Hopeful start' to Yemen peace talks

It's been years since Yemen's warring sides sat down to talk.

And on Thursday (December 6) they did in a renovated castle outside the Swedish capital.

Just getting the two sides to the table was a milestone but they also agreed to free thousands of prisoners in what the U.N.

Mediator described as a hopeful start.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS ENVOY TO YEMEN, MARTIN GRIFFITHS, SAYING: "This is a huge tribute to those here present and of enormous importance to the many, many thousands of families who seek the return to them of those currently lost to them." Yemen's war has pushed millions of people to the brink of starvation and killed tens of thousands.

In 2015 a Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened to restore a government ousted by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

The war that's followed is seen by many across the region as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

It's been stalemated for years.

No talks have been held since 2016, and the last attempt in September failed when the Houthis were a no show.

The U.N.

Mediator wants a deal on reopening the capital's airport, shoring up the central bank and securing a truce in Hodeidah, the country's main port.

Currently held by the Houthis, the coalition launched a campaign to capture it this year.

This could then lead to a wider ceasefire.

A U.N.

Source says the two sides are still far from agreement on the three issues.

For now, just being here is a start.

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