A new round of consultations over a prisoner swap between the legitimate Yemeni government and Iran-backed Houthi militias kicked off in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Sunday.
The meeting comes days after the United States designated the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization. The Yemeni government welcomed the move, saying it was a step in the right direction in working with the Houthis towards peace.
A UN-chartered plane carried four Houthi officials from Sanaa to Amman on Saturday. The government also sent four representatives, according to Mohammad Fadayel, the head of the government's prisoners committee.
The talks aim to free 300 prisoners, including high-ranking officials like the brother of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
“The meetings started on Sunday morning,” Ismini Palla, spokeswoman of the office of UN special envoy Martin Griffiths, told Reuters, adding that he had opened the talks.
The talks are part of confidence-building measures aimed at restarting peace negotiations last held in Sweden in December 2018, when the two parties agreed to exchange 15,000 detainees.
In October, the government and Houthis carried out the largest prisoner exchange since the militias’ coup in 2014.
Griffiths, in a statement on Sunday, urged the parties to discuss and agree on names “beyond the Amman meeting lists to fulfill their Stockholm commitment of releasing all conflict-related detainees as soon as possible.”
The administration of new US President Joe Biden said on Friday it has initiated a review of the designation, which went into effect on Jan. 19 ahead of Joe Biden entering the White House.
Ahead of the talks, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the conditions as “positive so far.”
The Houthis' chief negotiator has told Reuters the group would not walk away from talks.