Yemen govt starts indirect talks with southern separatists

ADEN: Yemeni government officials have begun indirect talks with southern separatists in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah to end fighting in Aden and other southern provinces, a Yemeni official said on Wednesday.
The fight for Yemen’s south has opened a new front in a multi-tiered war and threatens to further fragment Yemen, complicating efforts to end a conflict that has killed tens of thousands and pushed the nation to the brink of famine.
Yemeni government and separatist forces are both part of a coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the Ansar Allah group after it ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power in the capital Sanaa in 2014. But the separatists, who seek to restore the former South Yemen republic, have seized control of the southern port of Aden and declared Sanaa government authorities unwanted in the south. “Indirect talks have started between the government and the STC via the Saudi side; the situation is very difficult and complicated but we hope to achieve some progress,” a senior Yemeni official, who declined to be named, said.
Last week, the coalition carried out air strikes on government forces to support separatists of the Southern Transitional Council as STC forces recaptured control of Aden, forcing a government retreat.
A senior coalition official said earlier that the Jeddah meeting will succeed.
“We are looking with confidence and optimism at the success of the Jeddah meeting between Yemen’s government and the STC, and unity against the coup,” the official said in a Twitter post.
Saudi Arabia has called for a summit in Jeddah to defuse the stand-off. Aidarous al Zubaidi, leader of the STC, and Yemeni government officials arrived there earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Ansar Allah fighters said they had fired ballistic missiles at an airport in southern Saudi Arabia, the military spokesman for the group said.
“It was a direct hit… causing disruption of air traffic at the airport,” Yahia Sarie said in a statement, which said the group’s missiles had targeted Najran airport and several military positions.
The coalition fighting the group said they had intercepted and shot down a drone moving towards Saudi Arabia. Its statement did not mention missiles or what the drone had been targeting.
The coalition has been fighting the group since March 2015, shortly after the rebels took over the capital Sanaa and other areas and began to advance towards the southern city of Aden, which became the temporary seat of government.
— Agencies