Yemen peace talks begin as warring sides agree prisoner swap deal

Houthi rebel representatives and a Yemeni government delegation have gathered in Sweden

Yemen peace talks begin as warring sides agree prisoner swap deal

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, left, and U.N. envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths attends the opening press conference of the Yemen peace talks, at Johannesberg castle, Rimbo, Sweden. Picture by: Stina Stjernkvist/AP/Press Association Images

A new round of UN-sponsored Yemen peace talks have gotten underway in Sweden.

Fighting between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the ousted Yemeni government – supported by a Saudi-led coalition – has been ongoing in the region since 2015, intensifying a crisis that began with a revolution in 2011.

The conflict has resulted in what's been described by the UN as the world's worst humanitarian crisis - leaving thousands of civilians dead and millions of people displaced.

There have also been repeated warnings that the country is on the brink of famine.

The latest talks are bringing together representatives of the Houthi rebel movement and an officially-recognized Yemeni government delegation.

If follows a failed attempt to bring the parties together in Switzerland in September.

Officials today announced that the two sides had agreed to free thousands of prisoners as the talks get underway.

The International Committee of the Red Cross described the prisoner swap as "one of the first positive steps for Yemen in a long time".

The UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY) suggested the talks mark the first step in putting Yemen on the 'path to peace'.

Writing in the New York Times, special envoy Martin Griffiths said: "At no other time has there been such a palpable international urge for the warring parties in Yemen to find a solution.

"It is only those around the table in a serene, remote part of Sweden who can deliver on these hopes. For the sake of Yemen’s children, we hope they will deliver."

The talks are expected to last for a week.