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This is where the high-stake Yemen peace talks will take place
07 December 2018, 09:03 | Glen Norman
Sweden talks critical opportunity for Yemen peace
The reduction of violence, Sanaa Airport, humanitarian access and economic challenges will be discussed, Griffiths said.
Houthi militias doubt the success of peace talks on Yemen expected to be held in Sweden this week, Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the spokesman and chief negotiator for the Ansarullah movement, wrote on his official Facebook page Tuesday.
But the Houthis are unlikely to agree to withdraw from territory or to lay down their arms, as the Yemeni government has demanded repeatedly.
"The office of the United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, informed us on Sunday that the Saudi-led Arab coalition and the Yemeni government signed the prisoner swap deal, which we signed last November", the chairman of Houthis' Committee for Prisoner Affairs, Abdul Qader Al-Murtaza, said on Facebook.
Yemen's warring parties will meet in Sweden this week for another attempt at talks aimed at halting their catastrophic, 3-year-old war, but there are few incentives for major compromises, and the focus is likely to be on firming up a shaky de-escalation.
Also on Monday, the Houthi rebels said they were informed by Griffiths that the coalition had signed a prisoner swap deal, which the Houthis signed in November.
A previous round in September collapsed when the Houthis failed to appear.
The UN envoy is seeking agreement on reopening Sanaa airport, swapping prisoners and securing a truce in the Houthi-held port of Hodeida, now a focus of the war.
Bundled up against the wintry cold, Houthi delegates could be seen chatting and walking on the grounds, which were cordoned off by police.
On Monday, a UN-chartered plane carrying 50 wounded Houthi fighters and three Yemeni doctors left Sana'a for Oman's capital, Muscat, for treatment.
The Houthis have said they would head to Sweden once the wounded were evacuated and if their delegation's plane was not inspected by the coalition. "That is the message of peace for this brutal war ... for that war to stop now", said UNICEF's Geert Cappelaere.
No date has been announced for the start of the negotiations, but Yemeni government sources said they could begin on Thursday.
'At the same time, we call on the army, security and the popular committees to be vigilant against any escalation, ' he added.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Tuesday that the Sweden talks are a "critical opportunity".
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On Wednesday, he met with a U.S. peace envoy in Islamabad and pledged to help find a political solution to the long-running war. The Pakistani leader insisted there "are no sanctuaries in Pakistan". "The US has basically pushed Pakistan away".
The envoy had arrived in Sanaa on Monday.
"There are a lot of [senior] people being held by the Houthis, such as the former Minister of Defence, General Mahmoud Al Subaihi, and one of Hadi's relatives, his nephew, Nasser Ahmed Mansour Hadi", al-Deen told Al Jazeera.
The two sides not due to sit down at the negotiating table together.
"Yemen needs an immediate cease-fire and concrete steps to restore public services", it said in a statement.
Thousands of prisoners have been captured by both sides in the grinding war of attrition that has devastated Yemen at a cost of almost 10,000 lives since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015, according to World Health Organization figures.
More than 10,000 people are said to have been killed since the Saudi-led pro-government coalition intervened in the conflict in early 2015, according to the World Health Organisation, although human rights groups are adamant that the actual toll is far higher.
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Another is that startled eels get stuck there while attempting to flee the seals as the predators forage for food beneath rocks. Once revealed the seal was in good health, social media users couldn't help but poke a little fun at the "rebel" sea creature.
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