Saudi Arabia has submitted to Yemen’s demands to evacuate 50 wounded Houthi fighters to Oman for treatment ahead of new UN-brokered peace talks as a UN-chartered plane is to arrive at Sana’a airport today to evacuate the injured Yemeni resistance fighters accompanied by three Yemeni doctors and a UN doctor.
The Saudi military spokesman Turki al-Maliki said today (Monday) that the kingdom had agreed to a UN request to facilitate the medical evacuation “for humanitarian considerations and as part of confidence-building measures” ahead of the talks.
The evacuation of the injured fighters has been a key condition of the Houthi movement to attend peace talks in Sweden this week.
Previous peace negotiations broke down in September after Saudi Arabia refused to allow a Houthi delegation to fly to Geneva to attend the meeting.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a ferocious military campaign against Yemen since 2015 without any tangible achievement. The kingdom’s latest push to seize Hudaydah ahead of peace talks hit a brick wall as the strategic port’s protectors put up a fierce resistance.
The Houthi movement and the UN were not immediately available to comment on the Saudi military announcement.
The negotiations were expected to take place this week, but UN chief Antonio Guterres has played down the early December schedule and said he hoped talks would start “this year.”
In recent days, the UN peace envoy Martin Griffiths has held talks separately with officials from both sides in an attempt to bring the warring factions to the negotiating table.