Kuwait, which is hosting troubled Yemen peace talks, has issued an ultimatum to the warring parties to strike a deal within 15 days or leave the Gulf state.
Three months of UN-brokered talks in Kuwait have failed to make headway with the Iran-backed Al Houthi rebels and the government, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, both holding firm to their positions.
“We have given 15 days for Yemeni sides taking part in the talks to resolve all the issues,” Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister Khalid Al Jarallah told Dubai-based Al Arabiya news channel late on Wednesday.
“If matters are not resolved within the 15 days, we have hosted them enough and consequently our brothers have to excuse us if we cannot continue hosting” the talks, Al Jarallah said in Brussels.
The talks resumed in Kuwait on Saturday after a 15-day break.
“We have set 15 days to Yemeni parties for settling matters,” he said in a statement to Arabiya news channel, adding, “We, from the very beginning, have agreed with the parties to conduct negotiations within a timetable. Kuwait has been hosting the talks for a long time and this is enough,” he noted.
According to Kuwait News Agency, KUNA, during a meeting on Thursday with UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad, acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shaikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah renewed Kuwait’s stance of supporting the envoy’s efforts in making a success of the peace talks.
Ould Shaikh Ahmad, meanwhile, held meetings with delegations of the Ansar Allah movement and General People’s Congress, as well as with the Yemeni government delegation within the framework of peace talks.
Ould Shaikh Ahmad said on Saturday that the negotiations would last for two weeks and warned that they may be Yemen’s last chance for peace.
“It’s time for decisive decisions that will prove your true intentions and national responsibilities to Yemenis,” he told a meeting of the two delegations.
The envoy said the discussions between Al Houthis and their allies on one side and the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi on the other would focus on strengthening a ceasefire that came into effect on April 11 but which has been repeatedly violated.
They would also deal with “forming the military committees that will supervise the withdrawal and handover of weapons ... and opening safe passages for humanitarian aid,” he said.
But the two-week deadline by the United Nations angered Al Houthis who reiterated their demands for a national unity government ahead of any other solution.
The government is calling for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 which requires the rebels and their allies to withdraw from areas they have occupied since 2014, including the capital Sana’a, and to hand over heavy weapons.
The government wants to re-establish its authority across the entire country, much of which is controlled by the rebels.
More than 6,400 people have been killed in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in support of Hadi’s government in March last year.
Another 2.8 million people have been displaced and more than 80 per cent of the population urgently needs humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.