Yemen’s warring sides agreed to free thousands of prisoners on Thursday, in what a U.N. mediator called a hopeful start to the first peace talks in years to end a war that has pushed millions of people on the verge of starvation.
U.N. mediator Martin Griffiths told a news conference in a renovated castle outside Stockholm that just getting the warring sides to the table was an important milestone.
Griffiths said the prisoner swap agreed at the start of the talks would reunite thousands of families. The International Committee of the Red Cross said at least 5,000 would be freed.
Diplomats are expected to shuttle between the warring parties to discuss other confidence-building steps and the formation of a transitional governing body, a U.N. source said.
Griffiths wants a deal on reopening Sanaa airport, shoring up the central bank and securing a truce in Hodeidah, the country’s main port, held by the Houthis and a focus of the war after the coalition launched a campaign to capture it this year.