GCC agrees to hold Yemen talks in Riyadh

Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

The Gulf Cooperation Council has agreed to hold peace talks between warring Yemeni factions in Riyadh, the Saudi Royal Court announced in a statement on Monday.

Saudi Arabia had asked the GCC, on behalf of Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, to host the talks in the capital. The GCC’s headquarters are in Riyadh.

Hadi, who is now based in Aden since escaping the Houthi-controlled capital last month, made the request after failing to reach a deal with the militants and their backers on the choice of a venue inside Yemen. The UN-brokered reconciliation talks, which had been taking place in Sanaa, broke down after Hadi’s departure to Aden.

“The Saudi capital city for Yemen peace talks is a better choice,” said a GCC official, without giving details. Officials of the Riyadh-based GCC general secretariat contacted by Arab News Monday were tightlipped. The Houthis and the General People’s Congress have expressed reservations about holding the talks in Riyadh.

The GCC, particularly Saudi Arabia, have been concerned over the deteriorating situation in Yemen. The Kingdom has been a major donor for that strife-torn nation.

The Kingdom has now put on hold SR2.6 billion that was earmarked as aid for the Yemeni military last year. Major Western donors have also backed out from extending aid to Yemen, until peace negotiations resume.

Saudi Arabia has accused the Houthis of carrying out a “coup.”

Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda militants overran and held a city in southern Yemen for hours Monday before an army counterattack pushed them out, officials said.

The attacks come a day after Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Al-Subaihi managed to escape Sanaa. Military officials said that Monday’s fighting over the city of Mahfad in Yemen’s Abyan province lasted eight hours.


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