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Saudi Arabia proposes ceasefire in Yemen, Houthis sceptical

Saudi Arabia presented a new peace initiative on Monday to end the war in Yemen

Saudi Arabia presented a new peace initiative on Monday to end the war in Yemen, including a nationwide ceasefire and the reopening of air and sea links, but its Houthi enemies said the offer did not appear to go far enough to lift a blockade, Reuters reports.

The initiative, announced by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, would include reopening Sanaa airport, and allow fuel and food imports through Hudaydah port, both of which are controlled by the Iran-aligned Houthis.

Political negotiations between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthis would be restarted, he told a news conference, It would take effect when the Yemeni sides accepted.

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Yemen's internationally recognised government issued a statement welcoming the offer.

But the Houthis said the initiative provided "nothing new", as it still fell short of their demand for a complete lifting of the blockade on Sanaa airport and Hudaydah port.

"We expected that Saudi Arabia would announce an end to the blockade of ports and airports and an initiative to allow in 14 ships that are held by the coalition," Houthi chief negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam told Reuters.

A "humanitarian right" should not be used as a pressure tool, he said.

The group would continue to talk with the Saudis, the United States and mediator Oman for a peace agreement, he said.

The United States welcomed the commitment of Saudi Arabia and Yemen' internationally-recognised government to a ceasefire and negotiations, deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter said.

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Asked about Abdulsalam's comments that the Houthis expected Saudi Arabia to completely lift the blockade of ports and airports, she said that "negotiations are ongoing" and Riyadh's announcement was "one step in the right direction."

The war has killed more than 100,000 people, many of them civiilians, according to The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a database that tracks violence in Yemen

The conflict, widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been stalemated for years and has left 80% of Yemen's population reliant on aid. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign aggression.

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