Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Yemeni delegations at the Kuwait Peace Talks, in Kuwait City today:
As-salam Alaikum. Ramadan Karim. It’s a great pleasure to meet you together. This is the first time I have met you. I wanted to meet you last year in Geneva, but somehow it did not work.
I appreciate that you have now been meeting together to resolve this crisis in a peaceful manner through a political dialogue. The situation in Yemen is of profound concern, not only to me and the United Nations, but also to you and all of your people, and all of the countries in the region.
There is an alarming scarcity of basic food items. The economy is in precarious condition. Whilst the cessation of hostilities is mostly holding, there have been serious violations, causing further casualties and suffering amongst the civilian population, including children.
This worrying situation gives you, the delegations to the Yemeni talks, a very serious responsibility. You have a moral and political responsibility. I am encouraged by the commitment of both delegations over a period of many weeks, and into this holy month, to reach a successful outcome. But, time is not on the side of the Yemeni people. With every day that the conflict remains unresolved, their situation grows worse. The longer the conflict endures, the more time it will take for Yemen to recover.
The position of the international community is clear: the conflict must end, and Yemen must return to the transitional process and work towards the implementation of the Outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference. I have just come from the signing ceremony in Havana, where the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) agreed to lay down their arms and usher in peace. That was the most touching experience I have ever experienced myself. That agreement ended a long-running conflict. Many thousands of civilians lost their lives. Many people thought peace was an impossible dream. But, the agreement last week demonstrated the perseverance of all those who work to end violent conflict not through the destruction of the adversary, but through the patient search for compromise.
I, therefore, urge the delegations to prevent any further deterioration of the situation, and to show the responsibility and flexibility required to arrive at a comprehensive agreement ending the conflict.
Yemen is a country of extraordinary beauty, bountiful natural resources and an ancient and noble people. I encourage you to work for the goals of ending the violence, addressing the roots of the conflict and working together to build a better future for all Yemenis. I can assure that you have [the] wholehearted support of the United Nations to meet these goals.
I ask both delegations to work seriously with my Special Envoy to agree to a road map of principles, to commit to upholding the cessation of hostilities, to reflect the progress that has been made to date and quickly reach a comprehensive agreement.
Finally, I am encouraged by recent releases of prisoners of war and detainees. I urge the release of all prisoners, including political detainees, journalists, civil society activists and others as a goodwill gesture ahead of the Eid holiday.
Taking this opportunity, I thank His Highness the Emir of Kuwait and the State of Kuwait for the commitment and hospitality.
I extend my best wishes to all, and particularly the people of Yemen, for the upcoming Eid. Kul ‘am wa intum bi khair.