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The New Arab & agencies

Yemen peace talks to convene December 15

More than 5,700 people have been killed in Yemen, almost half of them civilians [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2015

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Yemen's President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi met with the UN special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and agreed to launch peace talks with the Houthis on 15 December.
Yemen's president agreed with the UN mediator to open long-delayed peace talks on 15 December in Geneva, a Yemeni official said.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has declared the port city of Aden Yemen's provisional capital following the rebels' capture of Sanaa and other regions of the country over the past year.

At Saturday's meeting, the UN envoy presented a draft plan to implement the UN resolution, officials said.

The draft will also be presented on Sunday in Oman to leaders of the party of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied with the Houthis.

"This mission will be difficult," a senior official close to the president told AFP earlier, accusing the rebels of dragging their feet on implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls for them to withdraw from occupied territory.

The UN envoy left Aden after his meeting with Hadi, who emphasised that "legitimacy will continue to be an advocate of peace".

Foreign Minister Abdel Malak al-Mekhlafi told AFP: "The putschists are refusing to lay down their arms or to allow the government to carry out its duties" from Sanaa.

"They have not announced their list of negotiators" for the talks "and are trying to escalate the situation on the ground by bombing residential districts of Taiz," a strategic city in southwest Yemen under siege by the rebels and their allies, he said.

In a protest sent to the United Nations, Yemen's minister in charge of human rights, Ezzedine al-Isbahi, condemned the "massacres and atrocities" allegedly committed in Taiz by the rebels that he said had killed 33 civilians last week, including four children.

The foreign minister, for his part, denounced the Houthis and their allies for having filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Sanaa against Hadi and his aides over their request for a Saudi-led military intervention that had "damaged the independence" of Yemen.

More than 5,700 people have been killed in Yemen, almost half of them civilians, since a Saudi-led air campaign was launched in March in support of the government, according to the United Nations.

In Aden, meanwhile, gunmen shot dead the presiding judge of a terrorism court, Mohsen Mohamed Alwan, and four of his bodyguards, a security source said, while Police Colonel Al-Khadher Ali Ahmed was gunned down in a separate attack.

No one immediately claimed the attack, but officials suspect al-Qaida's Yemen branch was behind it.

Al-Qaida has recently made land grabs in southern and eastern Yemen, exploiting the chaos of the country's larger conflict.

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