UN hosts new talks on Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah

UN hosts new talks on Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah
UN hosts new talks on Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Yemen’s warring parties have renewed talks on how to implement a year-old truce in the contested port city of Hodeidah.

The two days of meetings are taking place on a boat off the coast of the city, the UN mission to oversee the agreement said.

Previous negotiations between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government have collapsed.

The two sides in the five-year war signed a UN-brokered agreement last December in Stockholm, Sweden that included a ceasefire for Hodeidah and an exchange of more than 15,000 prisoners.

Under the agreement, Houthi forces would leave three ports, including Hodeidah, and international monitors would be sent to the region to oversee the withdrawal of troops from both sides in city.

But the deal was never fully implemented, partially because the pact did not make clear who would control Hodeidah after the withdrawal of the rebels in early January.

This week’s talks will focus on how both sides will redeploy forces from strategic areas in the port city, which has seen some of the war’s worst fighting.

The discussions will also focus on who will oversee administration of the country’s most important shipping port.

The UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who brokered the agreement in Stockholm, was also in the rebel-held capital of Sanaa for meetings with Houthi officials on Tuesday, before travelling to Saudi Arabia.

"Negotiations are still ongoing over redeployments to demilitarise Hodeidah,” Mr Griffiths said on Tuesday.

“We came out of the Sweden talks very buoyed by the fact that, for the first time ever, the two parties had made a voluntary agreement between themselves. So we were very pleased about that."

Last week, international aid groups warned that Hodeidah remains the most dangerous place in Yemen.

The groups said that since December last year, 799 civilians have been killed and wounded in the port city and surrounding province.

Yemen’s conflict began in 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels overran the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north.

They pushed out Yemen’s internationally recognised government sparked a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015 against the Houthis to restore the government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to power.

Updated: December 18, 2019 11:13 PM

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