Yemen govt team says leaving UN-backed peace talks

Kuwait City (AFP) - Yemen's government delegation to UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait said it will leave on Saturday, signalling the collapse of four months of UN-brokered negotiations with Shiite Huthi rebels.

"Today (Friday), we are holding some farewell meetings... and the delegation will leave on Saturday," delegation spokesman Mohammad al-Emrani told AFP.

"There can be no more talks after the new coup," he said referring to the rebels' formation of a supreme political council to run war-torn Yemen.

The Iran-backed Huthi rebels and the General People's Congress of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh on Thursday jointly announced setting up the 10-member council.

The job of the council would be to "manage state affairs politically, militarily, economically, administratively, socially and in security", a statement issued by the rebels said.

UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the rebels' move "contravenes" their commitment to the peace process and "represents a grave violation" of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 on Yemen's conflict.

A UN spokesman in Kuwait, however, said Ould Cheikh Ahmed was scheduled to meet with the rebels later on Friday and with ambassadors of the 18 countries backing the peace process in Yemen.

Indirect negotiations held in Kuwait since April have failed to make headway. Most of the discussions focused on the type of the government to run Yemen during a transition period.

"It must be made clear here that it is the Huthi-Saleh alliance that foiled the peace talks in Kuwait. They have shown that they were never serious about a peaceful settlement," Emrani said.

A top aide to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi said on Thursday that the government considered the peace talks had wound up without agreement.

"The negotiations have completely ended," said Abdullah al-Olaimi, deputy director of the president's office and a member of the government delegation.

More than 6,400 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in support of Hadi's government.

Another 2.8 million people have been displaced and more than 80 percent of the population urgently needs humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.