UN Special Envoy, Houthi Rebel Chief Meet Ahead Of Yemen Peace Talks
Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy for Yemen gives a briefing to the Security Council (Photo: unmission)

UN’s special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with Houthi rebel chief Abdel-Malik al-Huthi on Thursday in the capital city Sanaa to discuss the upcoming peace talks in December. The meeting came after a halt in fighting between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition forces.

The two men addressed "what can facilitate new discussions in December and procedures needed to transport injured and sick for treatment abroad and bring them back," Huthi spokesman Mohammad Abdel-Salam said on Twitter.

Martin Griffiths is spearheading the biggest push in two years to end the war in Yemen, which has resulted in what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis. He also visited Hodeidah which has seen fierce fighting in recent months as Saudi-forces attempt to capture the port city to cut off access for food and medicine for Houthi rebels.

The planned talks, to discuss an extended ceasefire will be held in Sweden in December, a rebel spokesman said. The rebel chief urged the UN to remain "balanced and neutral in its work to find a political solution", Abdelsalam added. The UN envoy has his task cut out as one round of talks collapsed in September as Houthi rebels failed to show up in Switzerland as they feared for their security.

The push for talks is being backed by Saudi Arabia’s biggest ally – the U.S. which gave out a warning to warring parties to come to a ceasefire within 30 days. US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has been increasingly firm on trying to push Saudi Arabia to hold talks and the US announced its decision to stop refueling Saudi-warplanes deployed in the Yemen war.

"All parties must not delay talks any longer, or insist on travel or transport conditions that call into question good faith intentions to look for a solution or to make necessary concessions," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

He also called for: "In addition to this, Hodeidah port must be turned over to a neutral party to accelerate the distribution of aid to address the acute humanitarian crisis, and to prevent the port from being used to smuggle weapons and contraband into the country or to finance the Huthi militia," Nauert said.

But this will only be possible if the parties show up for talks in December and they agree to an extended ceasefire.