January 9, 2016 / 1:21 PM / 2 years ago

Yemen government says peace talks may be postponed beyond mid-January

A Houthi militant stands guard as he secures an area where Houthi supporters are demonstrating against Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen's capital Sanaa January 8, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

CAIRO (Reuters) - Yemen’s Saudi-backed government said on Saturday that peace talks due to be held on Jan. 14 would most probably be postponed beyond that date.

“The thinking is to postpone the round of peace talks from mid-January to another date,” spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Muslim allies has been fighting the Shi‘ite Houthi movement, which controls the capital of Yemen, since March 2015. Negotiations to end the conflict were set to resume next week, with the U.N. special envoy to Yemen saying they would most likely take place in Geneva.

Badi said the announcement by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh that he would not take part in the talks and the lack of Houthi commitment to carrying out their promises of releasing prisoners were amongst the reasons behind the push for postponement.

Saleh, who enjoys the loyalty of the armed forces despite having stepped down from office nearly four years ago after months of protests, had joined forces with the Iran-allied Houthis in fighting the Saudi-led alliance trying to shore up President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Saleh said on Friday he would not negotiate with Hadi’s government.

The warring sides held the latest round of peace talks in December but failed to find a political solution that would end the conflict, which has killed nearly 6,000 people.

Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari; Writing By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Digby Lidstone

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