UN aims to re-launch Yemen peace talks 'within a month'

UN envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed calls for an immediate resumption of talks and a ceasefire in Yemen.

Yemenis inspect the damage caused by a Saudi-led air strike on a cholera treatment centre supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the Abs region of Yemen on 11 June 2018. Picture: AFP.

DUBAI - The United Nations (UN) said Wednesday it aims to re-launch Yemen peace talks "within a month", shortly after the United States called for the warring parties to come to the negotiating table.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed calls for an immediate resumption of talks and a ceasefire in Yemen.

"I urge all concerned parties to seize this opportunity to engage constructively with our current efforts to swiftly resume political consultations to agree on a framework for political negotiations," he said in a statement.

"We remain committed to bring the Yemeni parties to the negotiations table within a month."

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are in a US-backed coalition fighting Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen, are ready for talks.

"We have got to move toward a peace effort here, and we can't say we are going to do it some time in the future," Mattis said at the US Institute of Peace in Washington.

"We need to be doing this in the next 30 days," he added.

Mattis said that the US is calling for the warring sides to meet with Griffiths in Sweden in November.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) also welcomed the US call on Wednesday.

"This can be the political breakthrough that we have long requested from parties to this brutal war," Nigel Tricks, regional director for the NRC, said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict between embattled Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognised by the UN, and the Huthis in 2015.

The coalition has been waging an aerial bombing campaign in Yemen aimed at pushing the Huthis back, but the rebels still hold the key port city of Hodeida and the capital Sanaa.

After UN-backed talks collapsed in September, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Hodeida, whose port serves as an entry point for more than 70% of imports to the impoverished country.

Yemeni government officials said Tuesday that the coalition has deployed 10,000 new troops to the Red Sea coast, ahead of a new offensive on Hodeida "within days".

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since 2015 and the country now stands at the brink of famine, with more than 22 million Yemenis - three-quarters of the population - in need of humanitarian assistance.