Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has ordered the postponement of a Yemen conference aimed at restoring peace following a request from Yemen's government and other parties for more time to prepare.

The peace talks had been scheduled to start Thursday in Geneva.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement Tuesday that "the secretary-general is actively working to convene the talks at the earliest possible time."

The talks were meant to end weeks of heavy fighting and Saudi-led airstrikes against an Iran-backed Shiite rebel group amid a humanitarian crisis that has left millions in the Arab world's poorest country short of food and fuel.

Dujarric says Ban is "disappointed" at the delay and called on all parties to take part in the U.N.-sponsored talks "in good faith and without preconditions."