The United States, Britain and the U.N. peace envoy to Yemen called Sunday for the warring parties in the country to immediately and unconditionally declare a cease-fire.
“This is the time to implement a cease fire unconditionally and then move to the negotiating table," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said after meeting in London with U.N. peace envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and his counterparts from Britain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, which is leading an air campaign in Yemen.
Kerry said they were calling for the implementation of the cease-fire "as rapidly as possible, meaning Monday, Tuesday" as they all agreed a road map is needed to urgently end the violence in Yemen.
"We have all agreed on that road map and that that road map needs to be put to all the parties in order not to accept the road map without any changes, but to understand that it is a roadmap, it is the beginning of a conversation and the place to get back to the negotiating table and start to work through a lasting peace agreement," he said. "But we cannot emphasize enough today, the urgency of ending the violence of Yemen, of providing for an opportunity for political settlement which is the only way it will be ultimately resolved and of getting to that table as rapidly as possible.”
The senior envoys, Kerry said, had been in contact with Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and his internationally recognized government in exile and with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who drove him from the country to push for peace talks.
The Saudi-led campaign has come under heavy criticism since an air strike on a funeral gathering in the Yemeni capital Sanaa a week ago killed 140 people, according to a United Nations.