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Houthi delegation en route to Kuwait for peace talks

The peace talks are Yemen's latest attempt to resolve the conflict [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 April, 2016

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A delegation of Houthi rebels and their allies have boarded a plane for Kuwait, four days after negotiations to resolve Yemen's ongoing conflict were due to start.
A plane loaded with Houthi officials and their allies has taken off from the Omani capital for Kuwait, where Yemen's shaky peace talks are due to be held.

The talks were on the brink of collapse due to the absence of the rebels but were pushed back yet again after guarantees were made that the Houthi delegation would arrive on Thursday.

The internationally-recognised government gave Thursday as a deadline for the rebels to arrive in Kuwait or its diplomats would walk out of talks.

Four days after negotiations were scheduled to begin, Yemen's warring factions have yet to meet in Kuwait but a member of the delegation posted an image allegedly showing the group on board a plane in Muscat on Thursday afternoon.

Yasser Aalawadi, a representative of the rebel-allied General People's Congress party - previously led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh - confirmed his delegation will travel to Kuwait on Thursday.

It is hoped that the long-awaited discussions will end the conflict that has left more than 6,400 people dead since the Saudi-led coalition began its war on the Houthis 13 months ago, but an agreement is far from certain.

Diplomats believe that the risk of war resuming could push the rebels to speed up their arrival to Kuwait.

"According to the latest information, the rebel delegation should arrive in Kuwait by the end of the day," said one diplomat close to the talks.

"As a result, the talks could be delayed further until Friday," another diplomat said.

On Wednesday, Houthi rebels and their allies agreed to join delayed peace talks in Kuwait, after receiving assurances that pro-government forces will abide by the terms of the ceasefire.

The internationally-recognised government threatened to leave Kuwait if negotiations did not start on Thursday, adding its patience with the Houthi rebels was wearing thin.

The rebels refused to attend the talks on Monday citing Saudi violations of the ceasefire, which came into effect on 11 April.

Earlier this week, Kuwait's information ministry announced that the talks - which form the most important attempt yet to resolve Yemen's civil war - will open on Thursday.

He noted that the Houthi delegation were expected to arrive on Wednesday.

But the delegation - believed to travelling via Oman - is yet to arrive in the Kuwaiti capital.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies joined the war on 26 March last year, to back Yemen's government after it was pushed out of the capital - into exile - following a Houthi take-over of Sanaa.

UN talks in June and December failed to end the war, exerting extra pressure on the Kuwait talks to find a resolution.

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