A Yemeni government delegation flew out of the Saudi capital Riyadh early Wednesday for high-stakes talks in Sweden with Houthi rebels aimed at ending the country’s devastating war, sources close to the team told AFP.
The departure of the 12-member delegation headed by Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani followed the arrival in Sweden of the rebel negotiating team.
The first Yemen peace talks since 2016 are the best chance yet to end the war, analysts say, as the international community throws its weight behind resolving the devastating conflict.
The delegation of the Saudi-backed government was carrying the “hopes of the Yemeni people to achieve sustainable peace”, tweeted Abdullah al-Alimi, the head of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s office.
He added that the team would make efforts for the success of the talks, which are a “real chance for peace”.
The Houthi rebel delegation arrived in Stockholm from Sanaa on Tuesday following a prisoner swap deal and the evacuation of 50 wounded insurgents for treatment in Oman in a major boost to peace efforts.
Their team was accompanied by UN envoy Martin Griffiths.
Although no date has been announced for the start of the negotiations, Yemeni government sources say they could begin on Thursday.
A previous UN-brokered attempt to bring the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government to the negotiating table collapsed in Switzerland in September.