Mideast Yemen
Mideast Yemen

Talks to end more than a year of violence in Yemen will begin December 15, the U.N envoy overseeing discussions announced Monday.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the exiled government and Houthi rebels who overran the capital late last year have committed to participate in peace negotiations in Switzerland next week. Officials from the General People's Congress who are loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh are also expected at the meeting.

Ahmed said he was "almost certain" a temporary ceasefire would be in force by the start of talks.

"Everyone seems to be welcoming this idea that we will have a cease-fire," Ahmed said, adding that Riyadh agreed to pause its air campaign ahead of the meeting if Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi approved.

Internal clashes and an air offensive launched by neighboring Saudi Arabia in March have killed at least 2,500 civilians this year according to the World Health Organization.

Yemen's internationally recognized President Hadi fled to Riyadh, leaving behind a country crippled by the conflict. The WHO reported in October that fighting had reached 21 of the country's 22 provinces, prompting a health and humanitarian crisis that has forced thousands of Yemenis to leave the country.