UN-brokered Yemen peace talks have been extended for one week, host Kuwait said on Saturday, after seven Saudi troops were killed in border clashes with Iran-backed Yemeni rebels, reports BSS.
The Saudis died after Shiite Huthi rebels backed by soldiers loyal to the former president tried to infiltrate the southern Najran area of the kingdom, said the Riyadh-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
“An officer and six soldiers of the Saudi armed forces fell martyrs,” it said in a statement carried by state media, claiming dozens of rebels were killed.
U.N. special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrives for a meeting with Houthi movement officials in Sanaa, Yemen
Southern Saudi Arabia has come under sporadic attack since March 2015, when Riyadh took the lead in an Arab military coalition battling Shiite Huthi rebels who control northern Yemen.
Hours after the clashes, Kuwait’s foreign ministry announced peace talks would be extended until August 7 in a statement cited by the official KUNA news agency.
Otherwise, they would have ended without result on Saturday after Yemen’s government pulled out over an attempted coup by rebel forces.
United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed held talks with both delegations on Saturday and proposed a framework for a comprehensive settlement.
“I met today with both delegations (and) suggested a one-week extension to the talks,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed wrote on Twitter.
He said he also proposed a “framework for a solution to the crisis in Yemen”, without elaborating. Sources from the two delegations told AFP the proposed settlement is based on the withdrawal of rebels from territory they occupied in 2014, the handover of weapons and a return of state institutions.
Yemen’s government delegation had said it was planning on leaving Kuwait later Saturday after the rebels and their allies announced the creation of a council to run the country.
“There can be no more talks after the new coup,” delegation spokesman Mohammad al-Emrani told AFP.
The Huthi rebels and the General People’s Congress of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh on Thursday jointly announced setting up a 10-member “supreme political council”.
Its job will be to “manage state affairs politically, militarily, economically, administratively, socially and in security”, a statement said.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and the ambassadors of 18 other nations backing peace in Yemen condemned the council and called for a resumption of peace talks.
Indirect negotiations in Kuwait have failed to make headway since April. Most of the discussions have focused on the type of transition government to run Yemen.
More than 6,400 people have been killed in the Arabian Peninsula state since the Saudi-led coalition intervened last year in support of the government of Yemen President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Another 2.8 million people have been displaced and more than 80 percent of the population urgently needs humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.
A police officer was killed on Saturday when a bomb blew up his car in Yemen’s second city Aden, a security official said.
Further east, gunmen on a motorbike shot dead an officer in the town of Shibam in Hadramawt province, a military official said.