Saudi, UAE renew call for south Yemen peace talks

RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) renewed a call yesterday for peace talks between Yemen’s government and southern separatists, urging a ceasefire following deadly clashes.

The Yemeni government has previously insisted it would only take part in talks after separatist forces withdraw from positions they seized in interim capital Aden earlier this month.

The Security Belt force, dominated by Southern Transitional Council (STC) loyalists, took control of Aden on August 10 following deadly clashes with government troops that left at least 40 people dead.

In a joint statement yesterday, the Saudi and Emirati foreign ministries urged both sides to cooperate with a coalition committee and to attend talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

The two countries “call for the speedy engagement in the Jeddah dialogue called by Saudi Arabia to address the causes and consequences of developments in some southern provinces,” they said.

Fighters from a militia known as the Security Belt discuss launching a mortar towards Houthi rebels, in an area called Moreys, on the frontline in Yemen’s Dhale province. PHOTO: AP

The STC has partially withdrawn from some positions it occupied in Aden, but it retains control of key military sites.

Fighting flared again between loyalists and secessionists last Thursday night in the southern province of Shabwa, leaving 11 dead according to medics.

Yemen’s Prime Minister Mueen Abdulmalek made a surprise visit to provincial capital Ataq after the fighting, the official SABA news agency reported yesterday.

Coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki urged all parties yeterday to observe a ceasefire.

The STC is demanding renewed independence for South Yemen, which was a separate country before unification in 1990.

A coalition intervened in support of the Yemeni government in 2015 after the Huthis seized the capital Sanaa and most of the world’s poorest nation. Since then, the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, aid agencies said.

The fightings has sparked what the United Nations (UN) labels the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.