Yemeni government delegates assigned to the peace talks in Kuwait said they were leaving the negotiations on Monday after Houthi militia rejected a United Nations proposal aimed to ending their country’s war.
Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi insisted the government was not abandoning the peace process, but suggested it would only return if the Houthis and a powerful local ally, forces backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, lifted their objections to the UN plan.
“We’ve agreed to the initiative … we are now leaving the territory of the brotherly state of Kuwait but we’re not leaving the talks,” Mekhlafi said while announcing the move.
“We’ll return at any moment, even an hour after our departure, if the other side agrees to sign this document which the (U.N.) envoy presented.”
U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed proposed that the government’s foes in the armed Houthi movement quit three main cities they hold, including the capital Sanaa.
Under this plan, new talks would then be convened on forming a government that would include the Houthis, delegates said.
The Houthis dismissed the proposal as a non-starter on Sunday, saying in a statement that any agreement would need to be comprehensive and not postpone a resolution on major issues.
They said they would stay in Kuwait for the talks.
The negotiations started in April have slowed the nationwide fighting that has killed at least 6,400 people and caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
On that note, Houthi-staged violations continue as four people were killed and three wounded in Saudi Arabia when a shell fired from inside Yemen exploded in a town close to the border, Saudi civil defense reported on Monday.
The shell hit Samtah, in the southwestern Saudi border region of Jizan, a tweet by the Saudi civil defense said.
The U.N.-sponsored negotiations are on the verge of collapse after a new row erupted last week between the pro-legitimacy government and its Iranian-backed Houthi foes and renewed fighting broke out.
U.N. Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the talks between the Houthis and their General People’s Congress party allies and the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had been extended by a week.