KUWAIT: UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond described the UN-brokered Yemeni peace talks, which are being held in Kuwait, as “making progress”, with cautious optimism prevailing over the discussions. This remark was made by the visiting minister at a press conference yesterday after a meeting with the UN Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
Hammond, who is on a GCC tour to promote ties with Kuwait and the rest of the regional countries, expressed his appreciation to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s efforts in the Yemen peace talks. Hammond said that all parties involved should be “cautiously optimistic”. Even though the talks were moving slowly, “progress is being made”, he added. He said that all sides should understand there should be a political solution to the crisis because Yemen is getting dangerously close to an economic collapse.
Hammond said that there are many details that were still being disputed, yet “a broad settlement of framework is emerging”. He urged to keep the talks going and “keep everybody at the table” and not allow the posturing of any side to derail the talks.
Hammond also said the global coalition against the so-called Islamic State (IS) has been effective in countering the terrorist group on the ground and on social media. Speaking on the efforts to counter IS, Hammond told KUNA at the press conference that the Coalition’s Strategic Communication Working Group has been “successful in doing two things – firstly, challenging Daesh (IS) in its way of using the media itself. Secondly, countering its narrative with its own media messages.” The minister said that “one of Daesh’s defining features in its early phases is its incredibly skilled use of social media and modern communications channels”. The group’s efforts were effective because IS has lost its media dominance and it has lost fighters and ground control, Hammond added.
On Syria, the UK minister stressed that the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will never be part of the solution to the ongoing crisis. The only solution Assad could offer was to “resign from his post”. On his visit to Kuwait, Hammond said that it will entail enhancing bilateral ties in all domains, hoping that the new “successful” electronic UK visa waiver would increase the flow of Kuwaitis to UK. Hammond said that “11,000 to 13,000 Kuwaitis have traveled to the UK since the new visa waiver was launched in February with no failure to the system.” – Agencies