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Yemen peace talks postponed to Monday, says UN - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, walk on the tarmac of the Sanaa International Airport in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, March 28, 2015.  (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Shi’ite rebels, known as Houthis, walk on the tarmac of the Sana’a international airport in Sana’a, Yemen, Saturday, March 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—UN-sponsored talks between Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels have been postponed to Monday, a UN statement said, citing “unforeseen circumstances” that caused one of the delegations to arrive late to Geneva.

“United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and his Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Chiekh Ahmed, will begin consultations with the Yemeni delegations on Monday morning,” said the statement.

Originally scheduled for June 14, the talks aim to broker a peace deal between the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Iran-backed Houthi movement.

A Yemen source said the UN plane tasked with flying the Houthi delegation from Sana’a to Geneva was delayed after a disagreement among members of the group arose over who would get on board first.

“Dozens of Houthis who had gathered at the international airport of Sana’a caused a stampede as they made their way to the plane,” the airport official said.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, a UN official said the Shi’ite group “has been fabricating minor logistic obstacles, such as insisting on staying in a hotel different from the one that would accommodate the government delegation.”

The rebel group, the New York-based official maintained, has also demanded that Ould Cheikh Ahmed meet with them separately before the government.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed is set to hold separate “proximity” talks with the two delegations before bringing them to the same table, the international body has announced.

The talks are expected to last for three days and each side will be represented by a seven-member delegation.

Yemen has been in turmoil since last September when Houthi rebels seized state buildings and facilities in the capital Sana’a, facing no resistance from government forces. The powerful group has continued to spread across the country.

Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia in March after escaping a Houthi house arrest. At Hadi’s request, Riyadh launched an aerial campaign on March 26, targeting the Houthis and forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh whom it accuses of facilitating the rebel power grab.

Heba Qudsi contributed reporting from Washington.