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Yemen rivals agree on Hodeida ceasefire in Sweden

Griffiths is expected to brief the Security Council on Yemen on Friday [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 December, 2018

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UN chief Antonio Guterres led his mediators on Thursday in a last-minute push for a truce in the Yemen war as rebels and the government wrangled over a key points.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has said the rivals in Yemen have reached an agreement on a ceasefire in the port of Hodeida, after he led his mediators on Thursday in a last-minute push for a truce in the Yemen war as rebels and the government wrangled over the key port and airport.

The announcement was made during a press conference at the end of the talks.

International pressure has been mounting to halt the fighting between the Houthis and the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The warring parties have been in a rural Swedish village for UN-brokered talks, now in their seventh day, working for an agreement on key issues including a cessation of hostilities in Hodeida port, the main entry point for imported food and aid.

Earlier in the week, the delegations agreed to a prisoner swap of more than 15,000 detainees.

A source inside the talks said mediators remained "positive" although there was "disagreement on the points of the proposals".

Sources in both delegations earlier said no agreement had been reached on Thursday morning on both Hodeida and Sanaa airport, which has been closed to commercial flights for nearly three years.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, traded mutual accusations of non-cooperation.

The rebels control both the Red Sea Hodeida port and the capital Sanaa. The Saudi led-military coalition controls Yemen's maritime borders and airspace.

The Yemen conflict has triggered what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 14 million Yemenis now at the brink of mass starvation.

A draft document obtained by The New Arab's Arabic-language service shows a proposal to stop all fighting and have all troops withdraw to the city limits of Hodeida and for UN inspectors to be allowed into the port city.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres flew into Sweden late on Wednesday to attend the closing session, pushed back two hours from its announced time on Thursday.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths, who brokered the talks, was expected to brief the Security Council on Yemen on Friday.

Anger at the human cost of the war, as well as outrage over the killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, have prompted a harder line in the international community over the Yemen war, and particularly the role of the Saudi-led coalition.

The US Senate on Wednesday greenlighted a vote that could end US military support for Riyadh's war in Yemen.

The Senate voted to advance the resolution that ends US backing for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen by 60 votes to 39, with 11 Republicans joining Democrats to back the measure.

The final vote is expected to take place on Thursday. However, if the upper house approves the resolution, it is likely to run aground in the lower House of Representatives where Republicans hold the majority until January 3.

The Sweden talks mark the first meeting in two years between the northern Houthi rebels and the Hadi government that has been backed since 2015 by the Saudi-led coalition.

The last round of talks, hosted by Kuwait in 2016, collapsed after more than three months of negotiations with no breakthrough.

The Yemen conflict has triggered what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 14 million Yemenis now at the brink of mass starvation.

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