|Statement by Ambassador MA Zhaoxu at the 8424th Meeting of the Security Council on Agenda Item "Situation in the Middle East (Yemen)"|
I thank Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and USG Mark Lowcock for you briefings. Your effort to restore peace and stability in Yemen and to improve the humanitarian situation in the country is much appreciated.
China welcomes the important progress achieved in the intra-Yemeni talks in Sweden. The United Nations and Special Envoy Mr Griffiths overcame all manner of difficulties and worked on the Yemeni parties with great perseverance. UN Secretary-General Mr Guterres went to Sweden in person to lend his support to the consultations and push for breakthroughs over the Yemeni issue. I applaud this. The Kingdom of Sweden hosted the consultations and members of the G19 Group attended the event. They made important contributions to the success of the consultations. The Yemeni parties made important decisions in the interest of the future of their country and the well-being of the Yemeni people, thus breaking the impasse in Yemen. We welcome this.
We are pleased to note the three important outcomes achieved in the Sweden consultations, namely, an agreement on ceasefire in Hodeidah, a statement of understanding on Taiz and an executive mechanism on activating the prisoner exchange agreement. More importantly, the Yemeni parties agreed to hold the next round of consultations at the end of January to discuss a framework document for facilitating political negotiations in Yemen.
The consultations in Sweden marked a good start and their significance is, at least, threefold: First, the ceasefire in Hodeidah Governorate was achieved ahead of schedule, which would help prevent any further worsening of Yemen’s economic and humanitarian woes. Second, this event has the potential to become a key turning point in the Yemeni situation and a starting point for a new political process that will help the Yemeni parties build mutual trust. Third, it is a bringer of hope, to the people of Yemen and to the international community. It is inspiring. It boosts morale.
That said, the challenge confronting the political effort to settle the Yemeni issue is also threefold, to say the least: First, Yemen’s national security and economic woes have been snowballing over many years. The problems are chronic and deep-seated, and defy an easy fix. And the broad context remains highly fragile. Second, ceasefire across the whole of Yemen has yet to be achieved. We cannot afford to take lightly the risk of military friction and conflict escalation. Third, there remain serious differences between the intra-Yemeni parties, and the foundation of confidence is still shaky. It is particularly important to avoid misunderstanding and accidents.
As things stand now, the international community, in our opinion, should rise to action on three fronts.
The first prong is to implement, in good faith, the outcomes of the Sweden consultations. Efforts should be made to push the Yemeni parties towards immediate ceasefire in Hodeidah Governorate according to the agreed time frame, complete the redeployment of their respective forces as scheduled, implement the prisoner exchange agreement and set about seeking a solution of the Taiz issue. By fully exercising the UN’s oversight function at the Port of Hodeidah and taking advantage of the favourable external conditions, including the ceasefire in Hodeidah and the withdrawal of forces, the United Nations should strive for safe, rapid and unhindered access to Yemen for commercial and humanitarian supplies as soon as possible, so they can be delivered into the hands of the Yemeni people, to effectively reduce the risk of famine and provide the injured and the sick with the treatment they need.
The second prong is to build on the Sweden consultations and facilitate a sustainable and effective dialogue and negotiation process. The Yemeni parties should continue their consultations on, inter alia, the opening of Sana’a Airport to commercial flights and the payment of salaries to Yemen’s public sector staff, to arrive at feasible arrangements as soon as possible and build greater mutual trust. We look forward to the Yemeni parties reaching an agreement on the negotiation framework at the end of coming January, so ceasefire can prevail across the whole of Yemen and a comprehensive package, including political and security arrangements, can be worked out.
The third prong is for the United Nations to continue playing a leading role in mediation and good offices. The Security Council should keep up its political support to the intra-Yemeni peace talks and urge regional countries to continue providing constructive assistance to this end. The international community should increase humanitarian assistance and provide targeted support, with food, medical supplies and funds. Yemen should receive support in improving its economic conditions, stabilising prices, ensuring safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access and meeting the basic needs of the Yemeni people.
There is no alternative to the political track when trying to solve the Yemeni issue. No military solution can secure lasting peace. The international community should maintain Yemen’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity and support the search for an inclusive solution through dialogue and negotiation based on relevant Council resolutions - resolution 2216 included, the GCC Initiative as well as its implementation mechanism, and the outcome document of Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference.
China has been consistently committed to advancing the political settlement process in Yemen. The Chinese Ambassador to Yemen attended the Sweden consultations from beginning to end. China will, along with the international community, continue to support the United Nations in advancing the "the Yemeni-led, Yemeni-owned" political settlement process, with a view to an early settlement - a comprehensive, lasting and proper solution to the Yemeni issue.
Thank you, Mr President.