Talks begin in Geneva as combat continues

Fighting in Yemen raged on Tuesday, with dozens reported killed, even as the country’s Shiite Houthi rebels arrived in Geneva for U.N.-brokered peace talks.

The talks are aimed at ending months of fighting that prompted a Saudi-led coalition to launch an air campaign against the Houthis and their allies in March.

After initial meetings with the U.N. envoy, delegate Ghaleb Mutlak said that the rebels are trying to achieve a truce for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and that their delegation is willing to stay in Switzerland as long as it takes to end the bloodshed.

Heavy combat shook the cities of Taiz and Marib on Tuesday, while airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition hit rebel positions in the capital, Sanaa, as well as Hajjah, Saada, Jawf and Shabwa provinces.

It is unclear how long the talks will last. U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said the start of Ramadan this week may affect whether the delegations stay in Geneva.

“It is a golden opportunity to try and resolve this crisis,” he said. “Whether they will agree to extend their stay beyond the beginning of Ramadan is anybody’s guess.”

Yemen’s conflict pits the Houthis and military units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh against an array of forces, including southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Islamist militants and allies of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

— Associated Press

Nations fail to bridge rift over migrant plan

European Union nations failed to bridge differences Tuesday over an emergency plan to share the burden of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea, while police in riot gear forcibly removed dozens of migrants camped along the French-Italian border.

About 100,000 migrants have entered Europe this year, with about 2,000 dead or missing during their perilous quest to reach the continent. Italy and Greece have borne the brunt of the surge.

At talks in Luxembourg, E.U. interior ministers disagreed over how 40,000 refugees sheltering in Italy and Greece can be equitably relocated among the 28-nation bloc to ease the load on the two southern nations. No alternatives were presented at the talks, officials said. E.U. leaders will now discuss the plan when they meet in Brussels on June 25 and 26.

Past voluntary efforts to host migrants have proved inadequate. The current plan to relocate migrants is politically explosive, however, because it would ­legally mandate that each E.U. country host a certain number of refugees.

The emergency relocation plan was drawn up after 800 migrants were feared to have drowned trying to reach Italy in April.

Earlier Tuesday, police in Ventimiglia, on Italy’s border with France, removed a few dozen African migrants who had been camping out for days in hopes of continuing farther north.

Some migrants protested, grabbing onto signposts, while others had to be carried off.

— Associated Press

Austria convicts 10 over ties to Islamist extremists: An Austrian court found nine people guilty of trying to join Islamist extremists in Syria and a 10th of planning to drive them there and sentenced them to prison terms of one to three years. The 10 were stopped last year before they could leave Austrian territory, but the judge said their plans made them guilty of “criminal association.”

Philippine rebels lay down arms to reinforce peace deal: The ­largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines handed over dozens of assault weapons in a symbolic ­gesture to reinforce a peace pact stalled by a public outcry over the killings this year of dozens of ­police commandos in a battle with insurgents. The autonomy deal was expected to be one of the major legacies of President Benigno Aquino III. But the role of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in the deadly clashes ignited public criticism of the agreement.

Three British sisters feared to be Syria-bound: The husbands of three British Muslim sisters who are feared to have gone to Syria with their nine children appealed for their families to come home. Khadija Dawood, Sugra Dawood and Zohra Dawood and their children were reported missing five days ago after they failed to return from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. There are concerns that they may have tried to join a brother suspected of fighting alongside ­Islamic State militants in Syria.

— From news services