No country should be present in Yemeni talks, Zarif tells UN

May 23, 2015 - 0:0

TEHRAN – No country should attend the Yemeni talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during a meeting with Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN special envoy for Yemen, in Tehran on Thursday.

The remarks by Zarif come as the United Nations said talks for a diplomatic solution to the Yemen crisis will begin on May 28 in Geneva.

Zarif also said Iran supports initiatives that bring all the Yemeni groups to the negotiating table.

Iran and the other countries can help foster dialogue between the rival forces in Yemen, the chief diplomat added.

He expressed hope that the UN can play an “active” and “independent” role in settling the crisis in Yemen.

The Iranian foreign minister also called the continued blockade and bombardment of Yemen by Saudi Arabia “unacceptable”.

Saudi Arabia began a campaign of airstrikes in the Arab country in March.

Zarif said a ceasefire will be a “starting point” for any peaceful procedure to resolve the conflict.

For his part, the UN envoy praised Iran’s efforts to restore peace and calm to Yemen.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed also stated that all the Yemeni groups should attend the talks to reach a “political solution” to the fighting.

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Wednesday that the “only durable resolution to the crisis in Yemen is an inclusive, negotiated political settlement.”

Only Yemeni parties will be invited to the talks, at least initially, as has been the case with previous UN dialogues addressing the country’s political stability.

“This consultative process is intended to bring the Yemenis together,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq. “We appreciate the support of the regional and international actors, but we expect the actual dialogue to take place between Yemenis.”

On April 17 the Iranian foreign minister submitted a letter to the UN chief outlining a four-point peace plan for Yemen.

The plan called for an immediate ceasefire and end of all foreign military attacks, humanitarian assistance, a resumption of broad national dialogue and ""establishment of an inclusive national unity government.""

""It is imperative for the international community to get more effectively involved in ending the senseless aerial attacks and establishing a ceasefire, ensuring delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance to the people of Yemen and restoring peace and stability to this country through dialogue and national reconciliation without pre-conditions,"" said Zarif's letter.

--------Houthis to attend Geneva talks

Abdelkarim Al-Igri, an official from the Houthis’ political office in San’a, said on Wednesday that “we will participate in the talks.”

Reyad Yassin Abdullah, foreign minister for exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, said the participation would be conditioned on the Houthis withdrawing from the cities they occupy.

The Saudi-led strikes are aimed at returning Hadi, who is in exile in Riyadh, to power. Since the offensive began, widespread food and fuel shortages have been reported across the country.

A five-day humanitarian cease-fire, the only pause since the fighting began, ended on Sunday night.

San’a residents have reported heavy bombardments since the truce ended.

------ Iran backs UN-brokered Yemen talks, warns of foreign meddling

A senior Iranian official has pledged the Islamic Republic’s support for the UN-brokered talks on Yemen, but slammed any foreign interference in the negotiations aimed at ending the crisis in the Arab country.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, made the remarks after a meeting with Ould Cheikh Ahmed in Tehran on Thursday, Press TV reported.

He described talks with the UN envoy as positive and constructive, reiterating Iran's support for the Yemen negotiations due to be held in the Swiss city of Geneva next week.

“We announced that we will certainly try to contribute to the UN’s success in this regard, and will use our contacts with different Yemeni groups and will make efforts, so that the Yemenis can reach a conclusion in their negotiations,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

He, however, warned against foreign interference in the dialog, saying, “We expect the UN [not to allow] those who are beating the drums of war in Yemen to disrupt the Geneva talks.”

The Iranian diplomat also called for the implementation of Tehran’s four-point peace plan.