SANAA, Yemen — Yemen’s warring sides were meeting Wednesday for talks on reopening roads in Taiz and other provinces as the United Nations pushes to extend a two-month cease-fire ahead of a looming deadline, the U.N. mission said.
According to the U.N., the talks between representatives from Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the country’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels got underway in the Jordanian capital of Amman.
No other details on the discussions were immediately available. Talks on reopening roads in the government-held Taiz and other provinces come just a week before the truce is set to expire. The Houthis agreed to meet and sent names of their delegation to the U.N. envoy’s office last week.
The Houthis have imposed a siege on Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city and the capital of the province by the same name, since March 2016. Residents have long complained of the blockade, which has made their movement largely impossible.
The southwestern city is the junction of two crucial highways: an east-west road leading to the coastal city of Mocha on the Red Sea, and another north-south, to Sanaa via Dhamar and Ibb provinces.
The truce is the first nationwide cease-fire in the past six years of Yemen’s civil war, a conflict that is now in its eighth year. On-the-ground fighting, airstrikes and bombardment have subsided and the rebels have stopped their cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two pillars of the Saudi-led coalition that supports the government forces in the war.
The truce has included the start of two commercial flights a week from and to the Yemeni capital of Sanaa to Jordan and Egypt, and allowing 18 vessels carrying fuel into the port of Hodeida. Both Sanaa and Hodeida are controlled by the Houthis.
Hans Grundberg, the U.N. envoy in Yemen, confirmed that talks were underway to extend the truce. He did not make any predictions, saying only that an agreement on extending the truce would depend on his talks with the warring parties.
Yemen’s brutal civil war erupted in 2014, when the Houthis seized Sanaa and much of northern Yemen and forced the government into exile. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to try restore the government to power.
The conflict has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and over the years turned into a regional proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. More than 150,000 people have been killed, including over 14,500 civilians.