The outlook is bleak for achieving peace in Yemen, delegates have said, as talks between both sides began in Geneva.
Opening the negotiations, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon compared the urgency of the situation to “a ticking bomb.”
Seif al-Washli, a representative of the Houthis, blamed Saudi Arabia for his low expectations. Riyadh launched air strikes against the rebels in March, 2015.
“Expectations for these meetings are not great. Saudi Arabia seems determined to continue this war and to carry out its desire to continue to act aggressively in Yemen,” he said. “There are no signs Riyadh has any intention of stopping this aggression.”
Yemen’s foreign minister, Riyadh Yassin, was equally pessimistic about the possibility of a ceasefire. He called on the Houthis to withdraw from the towns and cities they are occupying, including the capital Sana’a.
“We are not optimistic as (the) Houthis always refuse to be reasonable. And even when they agree on something, they always decline it,” he declared.
Delayed by the late arrival of the Houthi delegation, the talks are expected to last two or three days, with Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, acting as a go-between for the two sides.