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UN Says No Progress In Yemen Talks Over Prisoner Swap

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CAIRO: Yemens warring sides did not achieve progress in their latest round of negotiations over a prisoner swap, the United Nations said on Sunday.

The talks started late last month in the Jordanian capital Amman between representatives of the internationally recognized government and the Houthi rebels. The prisoner exchange is part of a peace deal struck in 2018 in Sweden.

U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said the two sides did not agree to release prisoners during this round of talks concluded Sunday in Amman.

I am disappointed that this round of talks did not amount to what we saw in Switzerland last September which resulted in the historic release of 1056 detainees, he said.

In October, the warring sides achieved the largest-ever prisoner swap of the war, releasing more than 1,000 detainees. That followed occasional releases of dozens of prisoners over the past two years, which also served as gestures of good faith, stoking hopes the factions would implement the 2018 agreement.

The prisoner swap talks were facilitated by the U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Griffiths urged the warring sides to work on the implementation of what they agreed to and expand the arrangements to release more detainees soon.

He repeated his calls for the unconditional release of all sick, wounded, elderly and children detainees as well as detained civilians, including women and journalists.

The two sides traded the blame for the failure of the talks.

Yemens devastating conflict erupted in 2014, when the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and much of the countrys north. That prompted a U.S.-backed Arab military coalition to intervene months later in a bid to restore the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi to power.

The conflict has killed some 130,000 people and spawned the worlds worst humanitarian disaster.

The failure in the prisoner swap talks has come amid an intensive attack by the Houthis on the government-held Marib province.

The Houthi attacks forced several thousand of internally displaced people, or IDPs, to flee from Maribs district of Swarih eastward to the provinces capital, after the heavy fighting left them without water, electricity, health and educational needs.

Marib province has served as a sort of haven for around 1 million Yemenis who have fled Houthi offensives since the start of the war.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor

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Saudi Media to Biden Administration on US Move Against Crown Prince

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Syria Govt Says it Has Covid-19 Vaccine; Doesn't Say from Where


Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty is a red line, Saudi columnists said on Sunday, ramping up rhetoric in defence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after a US intelligence report implicated him in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Prince Mohammed, de facto ruler of the US-allied Gulf powerhouse, has denied any involvement in the 2018 murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The US administration on Friday imposed sanctions on some of those involved, but spared the prince. Washington released an intelligence report saying the crown prince had approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi.

“America does not have the right to bully a strategic regional ally and it is not in its interest to let domestic differences harm its regional interests and those of its partners,” Khaled al-Malik wrote in local Al Jazirah newspaper.

President Joe Biden’s decision to publish the report withheld by his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, who enjoyed strong ties with Prince Mohammed, brings with it a refocusing of Washington’s stance on dealing with the kingdom, on its human rights record, and on its lucrative arms purchases.

Malik said Saudi Arabia, which has relied on the United States for its defence including during the first Gulf War and after 2019 attacks on its massive oil infrastructure, could look to China and Russia for weapons.

“But the kingdom prefers America due to their historic and strategic ties and common goals,” he said, referring to Iran.

Biden, who has ordered a review of Saudi arms sales, said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Abdullah al-Otaibi, writing in London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper which is Saudi-owned, said the kingdom, Washington’s oldest Arab ally, was “not a banana republic to be shaken by threats”.

The Saudi government has repeated previous statements that Khashoggi’s killing was a heinous crime by a rogue group, for which a Saudi court jailed eight people last year.

”We want to strengthen deep-rooted ties (with the US) but not at the expense of our sovereignty. Our judiciary and our decisions are a red line,” Fahim al-Hamid wrote in Okaz newspaper.

Since the US report was released, many Saudis have flooded Twitter with the hashtag “We are all Mohammed bin Salman”.

Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority issued a statement on Sunday rejecting the report as “false and unacceptable”. The head of the kingdom’s morality police tweeted that it was a duty under Islam to defend the kingdom and its leaders.



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