Wednesday 12 December 2018

Prisoner swap agreed at Yemen peace talks

 

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom and UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths attend the opening press conference on UN sponsored peace talks for Yemen. Stina Stjernkvist /TT News Agency/via REUTERS
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom and UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths attend the opening press conference on UN sponsored peace talks for Yemen. Stina Stjernkvist /TT News Agency/via REUTERS

David Keyton and Brian Rohan

Yemen's warring sides agreed to a broad prisoner swap yesterday, sitting down in the same room together for the first time in years at UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden aimed at halting a catastrophic war that has brought the country to the brink of famine.

Hopes were high that the talks wouldn't deteriorate into further violence as in the past, and that the prisoner exchange would be an important first step toward building confidence between highly distrustful adversaries.

The three-year-old conflict pits the internationally recognised government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition, against Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who took the capital of Sanaa in 2014. The Saudis intervened the following year.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths said the two sides have signalled they are serious about de-escalating the fighting through calls they've made in recent weeks, and urged them to work to further reduce the violence in the Arab world's poorest nation, scene of massive civilian suffering.

"I'm also pleased to announce the signing of an agreement on the exchange of prisoners, detainees, the missing, the forcibly detained and individuals placed under house arrest," Mr Griffiths said.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News