The next round of peace talks between Yemen’s government and Iran-backed Houthis rebels scheduled for next week have been postponed, Foreign Minister Abdel Malak al-Mekhlafi said on Saturday.

 

“The negotiations will not take place on the announced date of 14 January,” Mekhlafi said on the phone from Cairo.

 

“They will be postponed until 20 January or 23 because the Houthis rejected the date of 14 January.”

 

He said UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed would travel to the capital Sanaa on Sunday to “convince the Houthis to participate in the negotiations on the new dates”.

 

The envoy also seeks “confidence-building measures” from the Houthis, including the lifting of their siege of Taiz and allowing aid into the southwestern city, he added.

 

The next round of peace talks would be held in Geneva, said the Yemeni minister.

 

Yemen’s government sat down with the rebels and their allies in Switzerland last month for six days of talks that ended with no major breakthrough.

 

A halt to the violence is sorely needed in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation, where the UN says fighting since March has killed thousands of people and left about 80 percent of the population needing humanitarian aid.

 

MEE