Yemeni talks to start Thursday in Sweden: Houthi leader

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He said in a tweet that the Coalition supporting the legitimate government in Yemen has "succeeded in accomplishing many goals of the military operation and always asserted the need to force the Houthi delegation to come to the negotiating table and implement global resolutions, especially UN Security Council Resolution 2216".

Earlier this week, the Houthis and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government agreed to a prisoner swap.

A 12-member team from the government headed by Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani left for Sweden early Wednesday, a day after rebel delegates landed in Stockholm accompanied by the United Nations peace envoy.

On Tuesday, Sweden's foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, described the peace talks as "an urgent step towards ending the conflict" in Yemen.

A source in the government delegation said President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's camp is seeking maps detailing landmines planted by the rebels.

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He said the dire figures underlined the importance of the planned peace talks in Sweden.

The announcement comes ahead of UN-sponsored talks expected to be held in Stockholm on Wednesday between Yemeni government officials and Houthi rebels.

The United Arab Emirates, another key backer of the beleaguered government, said the planned talks offered a "critical opportunity" to end almost four years of war.

Yemeni government official Hadi Haig said between 1,500 and 2,000 pro-government personnel and between 1,000 and 1,500 Houthis would be released.

On Wednesday, a half-dozen members of the rebel delegation could be seen on the grounds of the venue for the talks, the Johannesbergs Castle - a large estate with a golf course in the countryside 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of Stockholm's Arlanda airport.

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"We expect both parties to be realistic and flexible and hopefully we will succeed in confidence-building measures and make progress", he said in Arabic, in a video posted on social media Tuesday.

Oman on Monday received 50 wounded Houthi rebel fighters for treatment in hospitals. Three-quarters of impoverished Yemen's population, or 22 million people, require aid.

But fresh fighting flared on Monday and the coalition spokesman said military operations were "ongoing".

Worldwide outrage over the October 2 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate has refocused attention on the Yemen war and scrutiny over Saudi Arabia's activities in the region.

Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthi rebel group overran much of the country.

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"A stable state, important for the region, can not coexist with unlawful militias", Gargash said.

Griffiths hoped that this first phase of the talks could culminate in a UN Security Council resolution endorsing the implementation of a ceasefire that would mean the end to Saudi-led coalition air strikes.

But the Houthis are unlikely to agree to withdraw from territory or to lay down their arms, as the Yemeni government has demanded repeatedly.

The demands are unacceptable to the rebels and subsequent peace efforts, including three months of negotiations in Kuwait that broke down in 2016, have focused on a power-sharing government and a federal political system.

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