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Rimbo, Sweden — The UN's special envoy has appealed to Yemen's warring sides to "act now" for the future of the country, as representatives from the government and Houthi rebels gathered for UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden.

Why it matters: For only the second time in more than three years of war, officials from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government and representatives from the Houthi rebel movement joined the talks aimed at discussing ways to end the fighting that has killed an estimated 56,000 people and left a staggering 22 million needing humanitarian assistance.

The UN special envoy is seeking to introduce a set of confidence-building measures at the talks in Rimbo, a town around 30 miles north of the Swedish capital Stockholm, that will eventually pave the way for future negotiations.

  • While the warring sides will not meet face-to-face, the confidence-building measures may include negotiating a ceasefire in the critical port city of Hodeidah, large-scale prisoner swaps, the reopening of Sanaa international airport and the payment of salaries to civil servants in Houthi-held areas.
  • But Yemen Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani gave little indication that he was going to offer concessions to his rivals. He rejected a Houthi proposal to form a presidential council without President Hadi as "nonsense".
  • Peter Salisbury, a Yemen analyst and consultant at the International Crisis Group, said the talks "appeared to be heading in the right direction,” but “the odds are in favor of a negative outcome.”

What’s next: “The best case scenario is a broad agreement on these confidence-building measures, this includes something positive on Hodeidah that will stave off the battle for the port and city, and an agreement to meet sometime later for future talks,” Salisbury says.

Go deeper: Read the full Al Jazeera report.

Go deeper

10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.