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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Saudi Arabia launched a peace initiative for Yemen on Monday that would reopen Sanaa airport and ease restrictions on Hodeidah port.
The initiative, announced by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh, includes a comprehensive ceasefire across the country to be supervised by the UN.
Flights would be allowed to and from Houthi-controlled Sanaa to a number of regional and international destinations.
Restriction on the port of Hodeidah would be eased, allowing access for ships and cargo. Income from the port, including tax and VAT, will go to the central bank in Hodeidah in accordance with the Stockholm agreement.
The initiative also includes the start of consultations to reach a political resolution to the conflict overseen by the UN.
“It is up to the Houthis now,” Prince Faisal said. “The Houthis must decide whether to put their interests first or Iran’s interests first.”
The plan was welcomed by the Yemeni government as well as countries in the region, including Jordan, the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Prince Faisal in a phone call that he supported efforts “end the conflict in Yemen, starting with the need for all parties to commit to a ceasefire and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.”
The initiative is designed to fit with the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, and the US envoy to Yemen, Timothy Lenderking.
Saudi Arabia said the initiative gives the Iran-backed Houthis the opportunity to stop the bloodshed and become partners in achieving peace.
Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Salman said the initiative gives the Houthis the opportunity to uphold their country’s interests “over Iranian expansionist goals.”
“The initiative demonstrates the Kingdom’s interest in the stability of Yemen and its commitment to unifying all Yemeni factions in upholding their national priorities,” he said.
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