Diplomats urged to find a solution at Yemen peace talks

Diplomats urged to find a solution at Yemen peace talks

International figures have urged diplomats at Yemen peace talks to find a political solution to end the country's conflict.

Negotiators from Yemen's internationally backed government are meeting Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies at Bayan Palace in Kuwait City.

The Houthis have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since September 2014 and their advance throughout the Arab world's poorest country saw a Saudi-led, US-backed military coalition enter the war in March last year.

The war has since killed nearly 9,000 people - a third of them civilians, according to the UN.

Air strikes account for 60% of the civilians killed, according to a UN report from January 26. The world body has criticised coalition strikes that have hit markets, clinics and hospitals.

The war has taken on wider regional implications, as Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia accuses regional Shiite rival Iran of arming and training the Houthis.

Tehran says it only provides the rebels with political support, though the US Navy says its sailors and allies have seized weapons heading for Yemen from Iran. The Houthis have tried to distance themselves from Iran.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond welcomed the UN-backed negotiations, saying: "Only a political solution can bring an end to the conflict."

He added: "I urge all those around the table to come together to find a way to end the conflict, address the humanitarian situation and allow the return of Yemen's legitimate government."

Underlining the importance of the talks, UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed tweeted: "Peace is a choice. Make it your choice."

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