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Road to Peace in Yemen Begins Despite Houthis' Absence at Talks – UN Envoy

© REUTERS / Khaled Abdullah People gather to fill up their jerrycans with drinking water from a charity tanker truck, amid a cholera outbreak, in Sanaa, Yemen, July 12, 2017.
People gather to fill up their jerrycans with drinking water from a charity tanker truck, amid a cholera outbreak, in Sanaa, Yemen, July 12, 2017. - Sputnik International
GENEVA (Sputnik) - The road to peace in Yemen has begun despite the fact that the Ansar Allah movement, also known as the Houthis, had failed to arrive in Geneva for consultations, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said at a press briefing on Saturday.

"The important aspect of the last few days is that we have started consultations. The process of beginning the road back to peace has started, not quite as we wanted, but it has begun," Griffiths stressed.

According to the envoy, the United Nations would still have consultations with Ansar Allah.

"We will go and we will discuss with them the fruits of what we have discussed here," Griffiths said, adding that he would be visiting Muscat for talks with the Houthis.

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He also stated that the United Nations can start preparing for the next round of consultations between the Yemeni government and the Houthis movement in order to get prisoners released, open Sanaa airport and get humanitarian access open in the city of Taiz.

He added that the United Nations would do what it could to accommodate the views of both parties.

"The fact that we haven’t achieved what I wanted to achieve … is not an exception to our push towards peace. We will do what is necessary to accommodate the views of the parties," Griffiths said.

The official concluded by saying that the UN would continue to hold consultations on Yemen, as the real solution to the conflict exists.

"If I didn’t think, if the Secretary-General didn’t think, that there was a desire for peace and that there was a real solution, we wouldn’t be here wasting your time," Griffiths said.

READ MORE: UN's Yemen Report ‘Strongly Suggests' Coalition May Be Guilty of War Crimes

Yemen is engulfed in an armed conflict between the government headed by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Houthi movement. The Saudi-led coalition of mostly Persian Gulf nations has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request since March 2015.

Houthis' Absence in Geneva

The UN Envoy denied claims that the Houthi delegation was not allowed to leave the Yemeni capital of Sanaa for the UN-mediated peace talks.

"Nobody was trying to block anybody from these talks, from these consultations," Griffiths said, also expressing hope that both delegations would eventually meet for direct negotiations.

Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs Khaled Yamani, in turn, criticized the Houthis delegation for not showing up at the talks.

"[The Houthis are] exploiting international efforts and the efforts of the Yemeni government to reach peace. They are being totally irresponsible," Yamani said at a briefing.

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The minister added that Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi "was keen" on the consultations to succeed.

The UN-mediated Geneva talks on Yemen between the Houthis and the Yemeni government were to start on Thursday. However, the Ansar Allah representatives failed to show up at the talks, claiming that the Saudi-led opposition which controls the Yemeni airspace, did not allow them to leave and return peacefully. According to the opposition, Houthis were greenlighted to leave on time but did not use the opportunity.

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