Yemen’s warring sides gather in Sweden for peace talks

The UN’s Special Envoy has appealed to Yemen’s warring sides to “act now” for the future of the war-torn country, as representatives from the government and Houthi rebels joined UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden.

“Yemen’s future is in the hands of those in this room,” Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy to Yemen, said on Thursday in his opening remarks at the talks aimed at ending more than three years of devastating war.

“We must act now before we lose control of the future of Yemen,” he said.

“Both parties have called for a de-escalation, which is an important backdrop to these talks. This is a show of serious intent.”

For only the second time since the conflict began, officials from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and representatives from the Houthi rebel movement, joined the talks aimed at discussing ways to end the fighting that has killed an estimated 56,000 people and left a staggering 22 million needing humanitarian assistance.

Sources earlier told Al Jazeera that the UN Special Envoy is seeking to introduce a set of confidence-building measures at the talks in Rimbo, a remote town around 50km north of the Swedish capital Stockholm, that will eventually pave the way for future negotiations.