June 4, 2015 / 9:48 AM / in 2 years

UN aims for June 14 Yemen talks in Geneva, say diplomats

Anti-Houthi fighters of the Southern Popular Resistance walk to the frontline of their fight against Houthi fighters in al-Memdara district of Yemen's southern port city of Aden June 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations is planning to convene peace talks between Yemen’s warring factions in Geneva on June 14, a date agreed to by the war-torn country’s exiled government but not yet supported by Houthi militia, diplomats said on Wednesday.

The U.N. envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, briefed the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that while the Riyadh-based Yemeni government had agreed to meet in Geneva on June 14, the Houthis had not yet consented, according to diplomats at the briefing, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Plans for talks in Switzerland last week were postponed due to objections by the Yemeni government, which wants the Houthi militia to first quit Yemen’s main cities and recognize President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s authority as part of U.N. Security Council resolution 2216

The Houthis, who swept into Yemen’s capital Sanaa in September and fanned out across the country, want a ceasefire as a precondition for talks.

An Arab alliance has been bombing the Houthis since March 26 in a bid to restore Hadi to power. The Sunni Muslim states regard the Houthis as a threat to the stability of Yemen, which flanks the world’s top oil exporter Saudi Arabia.

Residents reported renewed air raids around Yemen on Thursday, a day after the country’s state news agency Saba said

an Arab aerial strike and Saudi artillery shelling in northern Yemen had killed 19 civilians and wounded dozens of others.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters in Paris, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah, whose country is part of operation ‘Decisive Storm’, said the air strikes were proving effective.

”If there had not been Decisive Storm we would have seen the Houthis and (former president) Ali Abdullah Saleh’s people all over Yemen,“ he said. ”I think Decisive Storm was an effective response for President Hadi and has restored legitimacy in Yemen.

“Is it enough or not? I think it will be enough when the Houthis and Saleh’s followers fulfil the elements of the 2216 (UN resolution).”

He said dividing Yemen into north and south was not an option.

“Everybody is insisting on the unity of Yemen and it is for the good of everyone, the Yemenis and the region, for Yemen to be united,” he said.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols and John Irish in Paris; Editing by Chris Reese and Gareth Jones

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