A United Nations plane will be allowed to evacuate 50 wounded Houthi militants from the rebel-held capital of Yemen, Sana’a, boosting hopes of a breakthrough in the conflict.
“A UN-chartered plane will arrive at Sanaa international airport Monday to evacuate 50 wounded combatants accompanied by... three Yemeni doctors and a UN doctor, from Sana’a to Muscat,” coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said in a statement
The move has been called a “confidence-building” measure by the Saudi-led coalition, ahead of planned peace talks in Sweden.
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The “evacuation on a UN-chartered plane marks a key step forward in kickstarting stalled negotiations”, The Guardian says, which some hope could help bring to an end the four-year civil war that has devastated the country, leaving it on the brink of famine.
The fate of the wounded fighters was cited as a key stumbling block to earlier peace talks scheduled for September, which fell apart when the soldiers were unable to leave the besieged capital.
Houthi rebels have said they will attend UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden this week, “if guarantees to ensure they can leave home and return back are maintained”, The Daily Telegraph says.
The timing of the peace talks remains unclear, with the Straits Times reporting that talks were due to begin this week.
However, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has “played down the early December schedule and said he hoped talks would start ‘this year’”, The Times says.
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