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Jun 30, 11:25 AM EDT

UN's Yemen envoy says more than 700 prisoners released


AP Photo
AP Photo/Hani Mohammed

Latest News
UN's Yemen envoy says more than 700 prisoners released

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KUWAIT CITY (AP) -- Yemen's warring sides have freed a total of more than 700 prisoners, including more than 50 children, since the start of the peace talks a little more than two months ago, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen said Thursday.

The release is an apparent good-will gesture amid peace talks underway in Kuwait. The U.N. envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, did not say where and when the Yemeni captives were released or give a breakdown of prisoners freed by each side.

The peace talks are being suspended for the next two weeks, to allow the sides return to Yemen to consult their leadership. The parties will reconvene on July 15 in Kuwait, the envoy said.

Yemen's war, which has killed an estimated 9,000 people, pits Shiite rebels known as Houthis against the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states.

Negotiators have said the suspension comes after weeks of deadlock in the talks.

The internationally recognized government of Yemen has demanded the implementation of a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on the Houthis to withdraw from all towns and cities, including the capital, Sanaa, which they have overrun and surrender their heavy weapons. The Houthis want to form a unity government prior to any changes on the ground, according to the negotiators.

Though a truce went into effect a week before the talks began, the two sides have repeatedly accused each other of breaking it.

Speaking to reporters in Kuwait, the U.N. envoy said Thursday that a "de-escalation and coordination committee" made up of members of both sides of the conflict would be based out of Saudi Arabia's southern Asir region to monitor the cease-fire.

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