British foreign secretary welcomes Yemen talks in Kuwait

AP News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2016 8:07 AM
British foreign secretary welcomes Yemen talks in Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Peace talks to end the war in Yemen resumed Friday in Kuwait, with Britain's foreign secretary welcoming the United Nations-backed negotiations by saying that "only a political solution can bring an end to the conflict."

Philip Hammond's statement came as negotiators from Yemen's internationally-backed government met in Bayan Palace in Kuwait City with Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies. The talks got underway Thursday night.

"I urge all those around the table to come together to find a way to end the conflict, address the humanitarian situation and allow the return of Yemen's legitimate government," Hammond said.

The Houthis have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since September 2014 and their advance throughout the Arab world's poorest country saw a Saudi-led, U.S.-backed military coalition enter the war in March 2015.

In over a year since, the war has killed nearly 9,000 people — a third of them civilians, according to the U.N.

Airstrikes account for 60 percent of the civilians killed in the conflict, according to a Jan. 26 U.N. report. The world body has criticized coalition strikes that have hit markets, clinics and hospitals.

The war has taken on regional implications, as Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia accuses regional Shiite rival Iran of arming and training the Houthis. Iran says it only provides the rebels with political support, though the U.S. Navy says its sailors and allies have seized weapons heading for Yemen from Iran. The Houthis themselves have tried to distance themselves from Iran as well.

Underlining the importance of the talks, U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed wrote Friday on Twitter: "(hashtag)Peace is a choice. Make it your choice."

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Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.