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Gulf bloc says Saudi to host Yemen talks

RIYADH (AFP) – The six-nation Gulf bloc said on Thursday it seeks to host discussions between Yemen’s warring sides in Saudi Arabia, despite the Houthi rebels’ rejection of talks in “enemy countries”.

The secretary-general of the Saudi-based Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Nayef al-Hajraf, told reporters discussions would be held between March 29 and April 7 in Riyadh.

“Invitations will be sent to all and the conference will be held in attendance of those who come,” he said. “We hope that everyone will participate and not miss this opportunity.”

But the Huthis said earlier on Thursday that while they were open to finding a peaceful solution to the seven-year war, they would not travel to Saudi Arabia.

“We will welcome an invitation to dialogue that does not take place in enemy countries,” a Huthi official said on condition of anonymity.

“We will always extend our hand for peace,” the official told AFP.

The GCC – which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain – had earlier this week suggested hosting talks between the two sides.

On Wednesday, the UN voiced disappointment after a donors’ conference raised USD1.3 billion, far short of the USD4.27 billion target.

Children walk in flood water outside tents at a camp for internally displaced people in Yemen’s war-ravaged western province of Hodeida. PHOTO: AFP