SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi met with a U.N. envoy in Aden on Saturday to agree on peace talks with Shiite Houthi rebels set to begin in mid-December, officials from the president's office said.
It was the first such meeting in the southern port city since pro-government forces drove the Houthis out of Aden earlier this year with the help of a Saudi-led and U.S.-backed coalition.
The conflict, which pits the Houthis and army units loyal to a former president against a loose alliance of pro-government forces, southern separatists and other militants, has killed at least 5,700 people since March, when the fighting escalated and the Saudi-led air campaign began, according to the U.N.
Previous peace efforts have ended in failure, with the government demanding the implementation of a U.N. resolution calling on the Houthis to lay down arms seized from the state and withdraw from territory, including the capital. The Houthis want broader negotiations on the country's political future.
At Saturday's meeting, U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed presented a draft plan to implement the U.N. resolution, the officials said, without providing details.
The draft will also be presented on Sunday in Oman to leaders of the party of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied with the Houthis, party official Yasser al-Awaidi told The Associated Press.
Yemen's powerful al-Qaida affiliate has exploited the chaos to seize territory in the south and east of the country, including a number of cities.
On Saturday, masked gunmen on motorcycles carried out separate attacks on vehicles in Aden, killing Col. Aqeel al-Khodr, a military intelligence official who supports Hadi, and Judge Mohsen Alwan, who was known for sentencing al-Qaida militants. Three other people were killed in the attack on Alwan, security officials said.
No one immediately claimed the attacks, which bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida.
All government officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters.