Peace talks will not resume for now, Yemeni officials say

AP , Friday 15 Jul 2016

Yemen Talks
United Nations (UN) special envoy to Yemen, Mauritanian Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (L), is greeted by Shiite Huthi rebels Ansarullah party's spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam (C) ahead of a meeting with Shiite Huthi rebels in the capital Sanaa on July 14, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

The UN-brokered Yemen peace talks will not resume unless Shiite rebels acknowledge the legitimacy of the country's internationally-recognized president and abide by the UN resolutions, government officials said on Friday.

The officials, one a cabinet member and the second a presidential aide, told The Associated Press that Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi had made the demands clear in a meeting with UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed Friday in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Hadi, officials said, stressed that his delegation will not meet with the rebels — who have controlled the capital Sanaa since 2014 — unless these two demands are met.

Talks were due to start on Friday. A rebel delegation has arrived to Kuwait, which hosted the first round in April.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam reacted by saying, "We know that the other party doesn't want a political solution, nor a peaceful solution."

Yemeni state TV reported only that President Hadi met with Ahmed in Riyadh and discussed the talks, without elaboration.

Since March 2015, the war in Yemen has pitted the country's Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, against President Hadi's government, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition. The conflict has left a security vacuum throughout parts of the country. Both al-Qaida and its rival militant group, the Islamic State group, have exploited the turmoil and expanded in the country's southern region.

Earlier in the day, a suicide car bomber targeted a convoy with the governor and police chief of the southern port city of Aden but the two survived the assassination attempt unharmed.

Security officials said the attack took place early on Friday as Gov. Aidarous al- Zubaidi and security chief Shalal al-Shayaa were en route to the district of al-Buriqa.

The officials say a guard was wounded and noted unconfirmed reports of civilians killed. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to talk to reporters.

The two Aden officials have been targeted in the past. Their predecessors were killed in suicide bombings by the Islamic State group.

Photographs circulated on social media showed the bomber's vehicle on fire.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

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