Govt, Houthis exchange prisoner lists

Martin Griffith, Special Envoy for Yemen of the UN Secretary General speaks during a press conference at the Johannesberg Palace in Stockholm, Sweden. — AFP

RIMBO, Sweden — Yemen’s internationally recognized legitimate government and Iranian-backed Houthi militias on Tuesday exchanged lists of prisoners for a swap agreed as a confidence-building measure at the start of UN-sponsored peace talks.

Delegates said the prisoner swap would be conducted via Sanaa airport in north Yemen and government-held Sayun airport in the south, a process overseen by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Yemen’s foreign minister tweeted that the government had submitted a list of 8,576 prisoners, including activists and journalists.

Brokered by UN special envoy Martin Griffiths earlier this month, the prisoner swap was one of the main points -- and the least contentious -- at this week’s talks.

Griffiths told reporters on Monday the prisoner swap would be “very, very considerable in terms of the numbers that we hope to get released within a few weeks”.

Among the other issues under discussion are potential humanitarian corridors, the reopening of the defunct Sanaa international airport, and Hodeida.

The government wants Hodeida under its control. — Agencies