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article imageYemen rebels say hope to attend UN-brokered peace talks

By AFP     Nov 29, 2018 in World

A top Yemen rebel leader said Thursday the Huthis will attend UN-brokered peace talks next week in Sweden if guarantees to ensure they can leave home and return back are maintained.

"I think that the national (Huthi) delegation will be in Sweden God willing on December 3 if guarantees remain to ensure they can depart and return," said Mohammed Ali al-Huthi on Twitter.

Huthi, who heads the rebels' Higher Revolutionary Committee, said there should also be "positive indications on the importance of peace from the other side".

His remarks offered the first clear indication that the Iran-linked Huthis will attend the UN-brokered peace talks, although in past days they have said they supported the negotiations.

It was also the first time that a key player in the Yemen war specified a date for the talks which the United Nations has said it would begin in early December in Sweden.

In September, a previous round of UN-led peace talks failed when the Huthis refused to travel to Geneva, accusing the world body of failing to guarantee their delegation's return to Sanaa or secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman.

Previous talks broke down in 2016, when 108 days of negotiations in Kuwait failed to yield a deal and left rebel delegates stranded in Oman for three months.

Yemen's internationally-recognised government, which is also backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, has already said it would attend the planned talks in Sweden.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths has held talks separately in the past few days with officials from both sides as part of efforts to lay the ground work for the peace talks.

He met Huthi in the rebel-held Yemeni capital Sanaa and had talks with Yemeni officials in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh.

According to UN figures, nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition joined the conflict in 2015 to bolster President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Rights groups fear the actual toll is far higher.

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