Houthi rebels arrive in Sweden for Yemen peace talks

A Yemeni rebel delegation accompanied by UN peace envoy arrived in Sweden Tuesday for peace talks

A Yemeni rebel delegation accompanied by UN peace envoy arrived in Sweden Tuesday for peace talks

Yemen's government has said it has agreed to a large-scale prisoner swap with its adversaries, the Houthi rebels, as part of a "confidence-building measure", suggesting the warring sides could come to a ceasefire agreement at peace talks in Sweden later this week.

Peace talks between the Yemeni government and rebels, aimed at ending four years of war that has pushed 14 million people to the brink of starvation, were due to open Thursday in Sweden.

The deal was struck by Griffiths, who was in the rebel-held capital Sanaa for meetings already buoyed by the evacuation of the wounded insurgents - a key rebel precondition for the talks.

Griffiths shuttled between the parties to salvage a previous round that collapsed in September after the Houthis failed to show up.A Houthi official told Reuters that their delegation could travel on Monday night or Tuesday morning.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Tuesday that the Sweden talks are a "critical opportunity".

Rebel official Abdel Kader al-Murtadha confirmed the deal, adding that he hoped it would be "implemented without problem".

Thousands of prisoners have been captured by both sides in the grinding war of attrition that has devastated Yemen at a cost of about 10,000 lives since the Saudi-led military intervention launched in March 2015.

He said in a tweet that the Coalition supporting the legitimate government in Yemen has "succeeded in accomplishing many goals of the military operation and always asserted the need to force the Houthi delegation to come to the negotiating table and implement worldwide resolutions, especially UN Security Council Resolution 2216".

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A member of the Houthi delegation participating in the negotiations in Sweden departs from Sanaa airport, Yemen December 4, 2018.

"The situation here does not make us optimistic that we will avoid war", said 51-year-old government employee Mohammed Taher.

The oil-rich Gulf emirate, which has been a mediator in the devastating conflict, hosted Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom for talks in Kuwait City on Monday.

While it backs Houthis fighting the internationally-recognised government, it is not clear what material support Tehran provides the rebels.

Global outrage over the October 2 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate has refocused attention on the Yemen war and scrutiny over Saudi Arabia's activities in the region.

United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock warned last week that Yemen was "on the brink of a major catastrophe", following a trip to the war-wracked country.

Riyadh/Aden - Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid Bin Salman said on Wednesday that the Arab Coalition was and continues to remain committed to a political solution in Yemen despite the pro-Iranian militias' procrastination.

The Houthis, who are more adept at guerrilla warfare, hold most population centers including Sanaa and the port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions that is now a focus of the war.

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