For the first time in more than two years the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels are holding peace talks, with half of Yemen’s population facing starvation as a result of the civil war.
Representatives of both sides came face-to-face in a castle in Sweden.
The parley, mediated by the United Nations, was not expected to produce an immediate breakthrough.
“At the moment this is all about building confidence and setting the stage for bigger negotiations to take place next year,” NPR’s Ruth Sherlock reports.
The talks did begin on a positive note, though. Both sides agreed to a prisoner swap, which will involve the release of thousands of people. U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths described it as a hopeful start.
“The prisoner swap reportedly took months of work to secure,” Sherlock says. “Now Griffiths hopes to use these talks to agree on other confidence-building measures.”
Eventually, he hopes for a cease-fire around a key port or the reopening of an airport to allow resources to enter the country.