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Yemen's presidency ready to exchange prisoners with Houthis

Freed Yemeni prisoners arrive in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, on October 16, 2020, as the war-torn country began swapping 1,000 prisoners in a complex operation overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross. [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images]
Freed Yemeni prisoners arrive in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, on October 16, 2020, as the war-torn country began swapping 1,000 prisoners in a complex operation overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross. [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images]

Yemen's presidency announced on Thursday that it was ready to exchange all prisoners with the Houthi group under an "all-or-all" rule.

The statements were made by Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen Saleh during his meeting with the deputy head of the United Nations (UN) special envoy to Yemen, Muin Shreim, in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Official Yemeni news agency SABA reported that the meeting had discussed: "Efforts to resume lasting peace in Yemen."

Saleh stressed his country's: "Support for the UN efforts to end the suffering of Yemenis. The Yemeni government is ready to cooperate on the file of prisoners, abductees and forcibly disappeared persons, and to implement an all-for-all agreement."

On 13 December, 2018, after consultations in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, the Yemeni government and the Houthis reached an agreement on the prisoner exchange file, but the implementation phase was reported to have faltered amid mutual accusations between the two sides.

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The Yemeni official described the prisoner issue as a: "Purely humanitarian matter that must be distanced from any exploitation, blackmail or bartering practised by the Iranian Houthi coup militia."

There was no immediate comment from the Houthis on Saleh's statements, however, the group confirmed on 4 July that it was ready to exchange all prisoners with the government.

In October, the Yemeni government and the Houthis swapped 1,056 prisoners from both sides over the course of two days, including 15 Saudis and four Sudanese. The swap was said to have been supervised by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Yemen has been involved in a war for nearly seven years between the Houthis and the government. The clashes escalated when the Saudi-led coalition intervened to back the Yemeni government.

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Middle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaYemen
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