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UN says Arab League open to Yemen monitoring mission


Geneva: The United Nations today said that the Arab League had indicated it would consider sending peace monitors to conflict-torn Yemen if a ceasefire was agreed, as pro-government forces made further gains.

The comments came after the UN’s envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, met with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby in Cairo hoping to push forward a peace process that has faltered so far.

“The Secretary General of the Arab League said in fact that the league, when the time came, would consider seriously the question of monitors, in case of a ceasefire,” UN spokesman Ahmed Fawzi told reporters in Geneva.

Fawzi said it was the first time the Arab League had indicated a willingness to deploy on the ground to monitor a prospective peace deal in the war-torn country.

During Ahmed’s talks in Cairo, “there was an identity of views on the situation in Yemen, and the process that the special envoy is trying to launch,” Fawzi said.

“The special envoy still feels, as he did in Geneva, that there is momentum for a political solution to be reached”, Fawzi further said.

A first attempt at peace talks in Geneva in June between the pro-government forces and Iran-backed Huthi rebels collapsed without the warring parties even sitting down in the same room.

The Saudi-backed pro-government forces who are fighting to restore the authority of exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi retook Yemen’s biggest airbase from the rebels earlier today.

It was the latest in a series victories for the Hadi loyalists and followed the rebels’ ouster from Yemen’s second city, Aden.

The rebels still control large swathes of the country, including the capital Sanaa, and their leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi has vowed that all recent setbacks are “short-term”.

The exiled government has said it is only prepared to discuss the rebels’ withdrawal from all the territory they have seized.

In Cairo, Ahmed also met with members of the General People’s Congress (GPC), the party of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied to the Shiite rebels.

Fawzi denied rumours that the UN envoy discussed a possible exit for Saleh from Yemen.

Ahmed will continue his talks in Oman and will stop in Riyadh before heading to New York to brief the Security Council, the UN spokesman said.

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