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Iran Press TV

Yemen warring sides kick-start prisoner swap talks in Jordan: UN

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 24 January 2021 4:35 PM

Fresh talks between delegations from Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement and Saudi-backed former government have begun over exchange of hundreds of more prisoners, as part of steps taken to revive stalled UN-brokered peace negotiations, the United Nations says.

Ismini Palla, spokeswoman of the office of UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said on Sunday that he had opened talks between Ansarullah officials and representatives from administration of Saudi-allied former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in Jordan.

"The meetings started on Sunday morning," she added.

A UN-chartered plane carried four officials of Ansarullah officials from Sana'a to the Jordanian capital Amman on Saturday. The Saudi-backed administration also sent four representatives.

Sources familiar with the matter said that the latest talks aim to free 300 prisoners, including high-ranking figures like the brother of Mansur Hadi.

The talks in Jordan are part of confidence-building measures aimed at restarting peace negotiations last held in Sweden in December 2018, when the two parties agreed to exchange 15,000 detainees split between the popular Houthi movement and the Saudi-led coalition.

Griffiths, in a statement on Sunday, urged the warring sides to discuss and agree on names "beyond the Amman meeting lists to fulfill their Stockholm commitment of releasing all conflict-related detainees as soon as possible".

Saudi Arabia and some of its allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 to bring its former pro-Riyadh government back to power.

The aggression that will enter its sixth straight year in two months has been accompanied with an all-out siege of the Arab world's poorest nation.

The combined atrocities have killed tens of thousands of Yemenis, displaced millions of others, and turned Yemen into the scene of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The invasion also aims to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, whose fighters have been of significant help to the Yemeni army in defending the country against the Saudis.

However, the Yemeni forces, including the Houthi fighters, are going from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders.

The Houthi Ansarullah movement has denied taking any action other than defending the war-battled nation defense against the heavily-armed coalition.

The movement recently said that the Saudi-led coalition will pay dearly for keeping up the war and a siege that it has simultaneously imposed on the impoverished country.

"Invasion of Yemen is a crime. So is the siege of the country. And continuation of these two amounts to a double crime," Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

US President Joe Biden, who assumed office on January 20, had pledged in his campaign to reassess ties with the kingdom, including by calling for an end to the US support for the Yemen war.

The assertion marks a clear departure from that of Biden's predecessor Donald Trump, who provided arms, logistics and political support for the Saudi-led military machine.

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