0853 GMT January 15, 2021
“We didn't manage to get... the delegation from Sana’a to come here... We just didn't make it," UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths told reporters, insisting however that the Houthi delegation had wanted to come and were "disappointed not to be here," AFP quoted him as saying.
Asked who was to blame for the stillborn negotiations, he insisted: "It's not my job to find fault. It's my job to find agreement."
"I'm not in the business of finding fault with one side so that the other side allegedly can be happier."
His comments certainly did not please former Yamani officials, who have been heading the former government delegation that arrived in Geneva on Wednesday for the talks. Griffiths, who held three days of talks with the delegation, said he would meet in coming days with the Houthi leadership in Sana’a and Muscat, Oman.
“They would have like to get here, we didn’t make conditions sufficiently correct to get them here,” Griffiths told a news conference, declining to elaborate.
The Houthis said on Friday it was still waiting for the United Nations to guarantee that the flight carrying its delegation to Geneva would not be inspected by Saudi coalition forces and could evacuate some of its wounded, Reuters reported.
The talks, which had been meant to be the first meeting between Yemen's warring sides in two years, had been scheduled to formally open Thursday but were put on hold.
A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen’s war against the Houthis in 2015 with the aim of restoring the former government of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. The humanitarian situation has worsened sharply since, putting 8.4 million people on the brink of starvation and ruining the already weak economy.
Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since 2015.
Griffiths, who said earlier this week he believed the Geneva talks would offer a "flickering signal of hope" to the Yemeni people, has been up against difficult odds from the start.
He is the UN's third Yemen envoy since 2014. All previous attempts to resolve the conflict have failed.