The UN will invite warring sides in Yemen for talks on September 6th in Geneva to discuss a framework for peace negotiations, the envoy announced on Thursday (August 2nd).
Martin Griffiths told the Security Council that "a political solution" to end the war in Yemen was "available" and urged world powers to support the new push for peace negotiations, AFP reported.
"These consultations will provide the opportunity for the parties, among other things, to discuss the framework for negotiations, relevant confidence-building measures and specific plans for moving the process forward," said Griffiths.
Griffiths told the council that he was "still trying" to negotiate a deal to avoid a full-blown battle for the Red Sea port city of al-Hodeidah, which is a key entry point for humanitarian aid.
Resolving the crisis over al-Hodeidah would have to be part of a "comprehensive political settlement" between the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) and the government, he said, suggesting that the talks would take place despite fighting on the ground.
The envoy expressed concern that "al-Hodeidah could be a flashpoint" that could derail the push for talks in September and urged the council to support de-escalation in the port city and "keep the Red Sea out of the conflict".
He said there had been progress in talks on a possible deal with the Houthis to turn over control of the port to the UN "but the gap is not closed".
US Ambassador Nikki Haley voiced strong support for the UN effort to bring both sides to the table in Geneva, telling Griffiths that the parties must "understand that they need to work with you."
"Civilians are at risk, infrastructure is at risk, and we as the international community have to demand that the two parties come together and understand the seriousness of this," said Haley.
UN aid official John Ging described the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as "shocking, both in scale and severity".
More than 22 million people -- 75% of the population -- are in dire need of aid including 8.4 million who are on the brink of famine, he said.