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UN Says Yemen Peace Talks Are Set for June 14

  • VOA News

Yemeni children chant slogans and wave Yemeni flags that read "Yemen one" in Arabic, during a protest in Sana'a against Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen, June 6, 2015.

Yemeni children chant slogans and wave Yemeni flags that read "Yemen one" in Arabic, during a protest in Sana'a against Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen, June 6, 2015.

The United Nations said Saturday that peace talks between Yemeni rebels and the internationally recognized government in exile would take place June 14 in Geneva.

A U.N. spokesman said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and Shi'ite Houthi rebels who control the capital, Sana'a. A peace conference set for late last month was postponed after the government and other key parties asked for more time to prepare for the talks.

The spokesman said Ban also urged both sides to agree to another humanitarian pause, similar to one last month that allowed for the delivery of aid to hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in the conflict zone.

Earlier Saturday, Saudi officials said their forces had intercepted a Scud missile fired into the kingdom's southwestern region from Yemen territory.

The Saudi state news agency said a U.S.-made Patriot missile was used to shoot down the Scud close to the city of Khamis Mushait. The area is home to the King Khaled air base, the largest air force base in southern Saudi Arabia.

The report said the Scud had been launched near the Houthi rebel center of Saada in Yemen's northern mountains.

Al Masira, the Houthi group's official channel, confirmed the launch and said it targeted the air base.

Shi'ite Houthis seized the capital from the Sunni government last September and eventually forced Hadi into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Proxy war

The Saudis and Western powers accuse the Houthis of receiving military support from Shi'ite power Iran as part of a larger proxy war between the Sunni kingdom and the Islamic Republic across the Mideast.

Tehran and the rebels deny the allegations, though Iran has acknowledged sending humanitarian aid to the Houthis.

Thousands have died since a regional air force coalition of Gulf Arab nations, led by Saudi Arabia, began bombing Yemen's Houthi militia and allied army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in late March.

Saleh, Yemen's autocrat president from 1978 to 2012, was forced to step down amid Arab Spring street protests but retains most of the army's loyalty and has joined forces with the Houthis in combat against pro-government forces.

The coalition is attempting to restore Hadi to power.

Some material for this report came from Reuters and AP.

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