'No agreement' at Yemen peace talks, but ceasefire possible: UN
Yemen peace talks ended in Geneva on Friday with no concrete progress, but the United Nations voiced optimism that a new round of talks could lead to a much-needed ceasefire.
"There was no agreement," said the UN's special envoy for Yemen, Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who added that if a new round of talks were held, an agreement on a ceasefire could be achieved "pretty soon."
No date has been set for new talks, he said.
Yemen has been wracked by conflict between Iran-backed Shiite rebels and troops loyal to exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia in February.
The rebels have overrun much of the Sunni-majority country and, along with their allies including forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have been the target of Saudi-led air strikes since March.
More than 2,600 people have been killed since then.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the high-stakes Geneva negotiations on Monday with an appeal for a two-week humanitarian truce during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
But the belligerents' positions have been so far apart that they have not even sat down in the same room, forcing the UN special envoy to shuttle between them for separate consultations.
But Ould Cheikh Ahmed told reporters in Geneva that just getting the two sides to come to the Swiss city was "a great achievement."
And he said he had seen "certain positive signs" in his discussions with the two sides.
"We believe that if there is a further consultation we can reach this possibility of a ceasefire accompanied by a withdrawal."
"There is in principle no disagreement on this basic element. We feel that it requires simply some further consultations and that we can achieve it pretty soon," he said.
"I remain optimistic on this," added Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who said he was heading to New York to brief the Security Council on the talks.
"The Geneva consultations are not the end in themselves, but the launch of a long and arduous path," towards a "transitional political phase."
© 2015 AFP