The United Nations is pushing Yemen’s warring parties to agree on a six-month truce extension, two sources familiar with the talks said, which would be the longest in the seven-year-old conflict as international pressure grows on both sides to end the war.
Peace efforts gained a boost after US President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia last week, where he announced an agreement with the Saudi leadership to “deepen and extend” the ceasefire expiring on August 2. The war has pitted a coalition led by Riyadh against Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis since 2015.
However, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg has to address strong grievances from both sides before they accept a further renewal of the existing two-month truce deal that first took hold in April, the sources said.
If agreed, the six-month extension would be the biggest step so far in the UN process towards resolving a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions facing famine in a severe humanitarian crisis.
“The proposal (for a six-month extension) has been with the parties for some time now,” one of the sources said.
Grundberg will travel to Oman in the coming days where the Houthis’ chief negotiator is based, and to Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, where the Saudi-backed government is headquartered, for discussions, the source added.
Ismini Palla, a spokesperson from Grundberg’s office, said the UN envoy has been discussing with the parties the renewal of the current truce, including the possibility of extending it for a longer period but “cannot discuss details at this time”.
“Mr Grundberg will continue his extensive engagements with the parties in the coming days,” Palla told Reuters by email. “We hope that the parties will engage with his efforts constructively… that they do not miss this opportunity to reach a just and sustainable end to the conflict in Yemen.”