US urges UN to hold off on Yemen resolution

UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths before a meeting with the leader of the Houthi rebels in Sana'a, Yemen, on Nov 24, 2018.
UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths before a meeting with the leader of the Houthi rebels in Sana'a, Yemen, on Nov 24, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday (Nov 27) told the United Nations Security Council that a draft resolution demanding a truce in Yemen should be put on hold until peace talks are held in Sweden in early December.

Britain presented the measure last week as the UN stepped up its diplomatic efforts to hold talks on ending the war in Yemen.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths is hoping to bring the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels to Sweden for negotiations that could begin as early as next Monday, according to UN diplomats.

During UN negotiations on the British-drafted text, the US mission to the UN said "it will be important to take into account the results of the imminent talks in Stockholm, which will be a key inflection point in the political process", according to an e-mail message seen by AFP.

"We look forward to offering more substantive comments to the draft once we have more information on the outcomes of the upcoming consultations," said the US mission in the message sent on Tuesday to other council members.

The proposed resolution - the first to be discussed by the council on Yemen since 2015 - would significantly ratchet up pressure on the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthis to seek a negotiated settlement.

HODEIDA TRUCE

The draft resolution calls for an immediate truce in the port city of Hodeida, the main entry point for humanitarian aid and supplies to Yemen, and sets a two-week deadline for the warring sides to remove all barriers to humanitarian aid.

Negotiations on the draft began last week, and no vote has been scheduled at the Security Council.

 
 
 

The US, which has supported the coalition, last month made a surprise call for a ceasefire and threw its weight behind the UN-led effort to hold peace talks.

Saudi Arabia has faced fresh calls to end the war in Yemen following the brutal murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The war has left millions on the brink of starvation and unleashed what the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Despite global outrage, US President Donald Trump last week vowed to stick by Saudi Arabia, throwing a spanner in the works at the UN during negotiations on the Yemen draft.

UN diplomats said they did not expect a vote this week on the measure due to the US reluctance to push the coalition.

The draft resolution calls for a large injection of foreign currency into the economy through the central bank to support the collapsing currency and for salaries of civil servants, teachers and health workers to be paid within one month.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is facing international criticism over the Khashoggi murder and the devastating war in Yemen, is due to join world leaders at the G-20 summit in Argentina later this week.