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Houthi envoys heading to Riyadh for ceasefire talks with Saudis - sources

September 14, 2023 at 4:36 pm

Houthis take security measures as a delegation of Yemeni activists and tribal leaders welcome released Major General Faisal Rajab in Sanaa, Yemen on April 30, 2023 [Mohammed Hamoud – Anadolu Agency]

Houthi and Omani envoys are planning to head to Saudi Arabia on Thursday night to try to negotiate a permanent ceasefire with Saudi officials to end the war in Yemen, two people involved in the talks said.

Houthi officials will travel to Riyadh with the Omani mediators, who landed in Sana’a on Thursday, the sources said, Reuters reports.

The Saudi government and a Houthi spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The trip will be the first official visit by Houthi officials to the Kingdom since the war broke out in Yemen in 2014, after the Iran-aligned group ousted a Saudi-backed government in Sana’a.

The first round of the Oman-mediated consultations between Riyadh and Sana’a, which are running in parallel to UN peace efforts, was held in April when Saudi envoys visited Sana’a.

READ: TIMELINE: Yemen slide into political crisis and war

The group has been fighting against a Saudi-led military alliance since 2015 in a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and left 80 per cent of Yemen’s population dependent on humanitarian aid.

The Omani plane is expected to fly from Sana’a to Riyadh on Thursday night, the people said.

Sources speaking on condition of anonymity have told Reuters that the Saudi-Houthi talks are focused on a full re-opening of Houthi-controlled ports and Sana’a Airport, payment of wages for public servants from oil revenues, rebuilding efforts, and a timeline for foreign forces to quit Yemen.

Washington has put pressure on its traditional ally, Saudi Arabia, to end the war and linked some of its military support to the Kingdom ending its involvement in Yemen.

Oman, which borders Yemen, has been trying for years to bridge differences between the warring parties, and more broadly between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The peace initiatives have gained momentum since arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to re-establish ties in a deal brokered by China. A permanent ceasefire in Yemen would mark a milestone in stabilising the Middle East.

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