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UK foreign secretary: Yemen peace needs promises kept

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in London, UK on 6 June 2014 [NHS Confederation/Flickr]
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in London, UK on 6 June 2014 [NHS Confederation/Flickr]

If the commitments by both sides in the Yemen conflict are not fulfilled, the peace process “could be dead in weeks,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned on Sunday.

“We are now in last-chance saloon for the Stockholm peace process,” Hunt warned, speaking in war-torn Yemen.

“The port of Hodeidah [Al-Hudaydah] was supposed to cleared of militia and left under neutral control by the beginning of January,” he said, referring to a port providing entry for nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s food imports.

“The process could be dead within weeks if we do not see both sides sticking to their commitments in Stockholm.”

Hunt visited Aden today on the first visit to Yemen by a Western foreign minister since the start of the conflict in 2015, and the first by a British foreign secretary since 1996.

Yemen: Government forces, rebels clash in Al-Hudaydah

Meeting Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Saeed al-Khanbashi and Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani “in a display of the UK’s support to the government of Yemen and for UN efforts to secure peace,” Hunt discussed the humanitarian response in the port of Aden with aid workers and representatives of the Aden Office of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), according to a government statement.

“People in Yemen are on the brink of starvation and none of the parties really want a return to hostilities – so now is the time to take a deep breath, put aside the anger and mistrust after four years of terrible fighting, and take the risks that are always necessary at the start of any peace process,” Hunt said.

Since Friday, Hunt has met with Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdel Salem in Riyadh and Muscat, respectively.

Hunt’s visit to Aden was part of a “Yemen-focused Gulf tour” during which he also engaged regional leaders including Sultan Qaboos in Oman, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf in Saudi Arabia, and Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed in the UAE, “as part of a sustained UK diplomatic campaign to support the UN-led peace process.”

The UK is one of the largest Western aid contributors to the Yemen crisis with a humanitarian contribution of £770 million ($1 billion) since 2015, according to the UK government statement.

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