(Bloomberg) -- Peace talks between Yemen’s exiled government and Shiite rebels planned for this week in Geneva haven’t taken place after the Houthis delegation didn’t arrive in the Swiss city.

The United Nations’ special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, plans to head to the war-torn country within days, where he will hold talks with the Houthi rebels.

“The environment for discussions is fairly positive, despite what’s happening on the ground and despite the fact that we did not of course get the opportunity to receive” the Houthi delegation, he told reporters in Geneva on Saturday. “We will be going to Muscat and Sana’a to take up the issues that we will have discussed here.”

For the first time in two years the two sides were meant to sit down and try to end a civil war that has become a proxy battle for regional influence between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels’ patron, Iran. The kingdom and the United Arab Emirates intervened militarily in March 2015 to help restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur, who was forced into exile in Riyadh.

“Despite the serious setback in Geneva, the way forward is still a political solution," the U.A.E.’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in a tweet Saturday. “What is perhaps clearer now to the international community is the unwillingness of the Houthis to engage in good faith with such a process.”

The Houthis said their Omani flight was declined authorization by the Saudi-led coalition to transfer their delegation to Geneva, the Associated Press reported, citing rebel officials.

The war has created a humanitarian catastrophe in the impoverished country, with thousands of civilians killed, and displacement, hunger and sickness rampant. Three-quarters of the country’s 28 million people need aid to stave off hunger and disease, and half of those require it urgently to survive, according to the UN.

To contact the reporter on this story: Claudia Maedler in Dubai at cmaedler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steve Geimann at sgeimann@bloomberg.net, Dylan Griffiths, V. Ramakrishnan

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