UN: Resumption of Yemen peace talks unlikely before Jan. 20

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SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The resumption of Yemen peace talks won't take place this week as originally hoped, following renewed fighting and air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition battling Shiite Houthi rebels, a U.N. spokesman said Tuesday.

Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed wants the talks to resume in the region but is facing delays in his efforts to broker an agreement on a location, spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told reporters.

The Arab world's poorest country has been plagued by fighting between its internationally recognized government, backed by Saudi-led, U.S.-supported coalition, and the rebels, who are allied with former President Ali Abdulla Saleh. The U.N. estimates nearly 2,800 civilians have been killed in the fighting since March.

A first round of talks was held in Switzerland last month, but Fawzi said the Jan. 14 target for their resumption was no longer "viable" and that the special envoy was now "looking for a date after the 20th of January."

Earlier peace efforts have failed, with the government insisting that the Houthis comply with a U.N. resolution that requires them to hand over weapons and withdraw from territory, including the capital, Sanaa.

In a Tuesday meeting with the U.N. envoy, rebel leaders said they agreed that a new cease-fire go into effect four days prior to the upcoming round of talks. The dialogue is expected to start before the end of the January, the leaders told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The U.N and the Houthis are also awaiting government consent on the formation of at least five supervisory committees to monitor the next truce, the rebels said. The committees are meant to include leaders from both sides of the conflict as well as neutral observers, and would fall under U.N. supervision.

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