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Yemen peace talks set to start on Thursday in Sweden

ADEN: A team from Yemen’s Saudi Arabia-backed government arrived in Sweden to attend peace talks starting on Thursday with members of the Iran-aligned Houthi group, in a renewed U.N. push to end a war that has pushed the country to the brink of starvation.

A U.N. source said the two sides were unlikely to hold direct talks at a renovated castle outside Stockholm and that special envoy Martin Griffiths and his team would shuttle between them for the consultations, the first since 2016.

One representative of the internationally recognized government, Abdullah al-Alimi, tweeted that the talks were “a true opportunity for peace,” before the delegation flew out of the Saudi Arabia capital Riyadh on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – leaders of a Western-backed coalition battling the Houthis to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government – want to exit a costly war that has dragged on for nearly four years.

Western allies, which provide arms and intelligence to the coalition, have ramped up pressure on them to find a way to end a conflict that killed tens of thousands of people and left more than 8 million facing famine.

The Saudi-led alliance intervened in the civil war in 2015 after the Houthi movement ousted Hadi’s government from the Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2014. But the conflict has seen military stalemate since the alliance seized the southern port of Aden.

Seeking to reinvigorate peace efforts, U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths secured some confidence-building measures, including the evacuation of Houthi wounded, to help persuade the movement to attend the talks in Sweden.

The Houthi delegation arrived there on Tuesday, having failed to turn up for previous talks in Geneva in September.

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