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Iran proposes UN talks to end Yemen conflict

Iran proposes UN talks on Yemen, citing the success of the Islamic Republic's participation in talks on Afghanistan in 2001
File photo shows Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (AFP)

Iran proposed on Wednesday to hold UN talks on ending the conflict in Yemen at a neutral venue, pointing to the success of the talks on Afghanistan held in Germany in 2001.

"Everybody in Yemen should engage in a dialogue without preconditions and I do not believe that is taking place in the UAE," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at New York University.

"The UAE unfortunately became part of the conflict," he added. "It has to take place in a place that is not a party to this conflict."

The UN says more than 1,000 people have been killed in fighting in Yemen since late March, when Riyadh assembled the coalition in support of the country's exiled president.

Zarif said the talks should include everyone in Yemen and lead to a broad-based government that has good relations with its neighbours.

"It should be a Yemeni-owned and a Yemeni-operated process. We can facilitate," he said.

He recalled the 2001 Bonn conference, held under UN auspices, that paved the way for an Afghan government after the US-led invasion brought down the Taliban.

Iran took part in the Bonn talks, a rare example where Tehran is said to have cooperated with Washington.

"I think Yemen should be the same and I think the United Nations has enough experience to lead that, and we've been talking to them and I hope they can do it," he added.

Zarif described the situation in Yemen as "dire" and said the humanitarian situation was "catastrophic".

US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini discussed Yemen on Wednesday, the State Department said.

"They did talk about the need to, as quickly as possible, move to a political dialogue to get Yemenis at the table to move this process forward," said acting State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

"They talked about possible ways that could happen," she added, without going into details.

Harf said the US had always been open to Iran "having a role in discussions about issues where they can play a role".

Kerry raised the conflict in Yemen with Zarif during their talks on Monday in New York calling on all players to use their influence to bring the sides to negotiations, a US official said.

As of 22 April, Yemen’s Ministry of Health put the number of deaths among children in the conflict at 134, with 401 injured. Among women, the death toll was 95, with 225 injured.

On the same day, Iran called for all sides in the conflict to start negotiations, with President Hassan Rouhani saying: “History has demonstrated that military intervention is not a proper response to these crises and will instead exacerbate the situation.”

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