Yemen peace talks in Sweden a 'vital first step' says Washington

Washington (AFP) –


The United States on Tuesday hailed the announcement of Yemen peace talks in Sweden as a "necessary and vital first step," calling on all parties to engage fully and "cease any ongoing hostilities."

"We have no illusions that this process will be easy, but we welcome this necessary and vital first step," said Heather Nauert, the State Department's spokeswoman.

"Now is the time for Yemenis to replace conflict with reconciliation and work together to realize a brighter future for Yemen."

She added: "The United States calls on parties to engage fully and genuinely, and cease any ongoing hostilities."

A Huthi rebel delegation flew out of the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Tuesday, heading for talks in Sweden with the government aimed at ending the country's devastating war.

A Yemeni government team, headed by Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, was expected in Sweden on Wednesday.

The United Nations has described Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian disaster, with at least 10,000 people killed since a Saudi-led coalition intervened against the Huthis in 2015.

Rights groups fear the actual toll is far higher.