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Houthi negotiators to leave Riyadh after talks with Saudi officials - sources

September 19, 2023 at 5:10 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 negotiators are planning to leave Riyadh on Tuesday, after a five-day round of talks with Saudi officials on a potential agreement paving the way to an end to the eight-year-old conflict in Yemen, four sources familiar with the plans said, Reuters reports.

Some progress has been made on the main sticking points, including a timeline for foreign troops exiting the country and a mechanism for paying public wages, two of the sources said. The two sides will meet for more talks after consultations “soon”, they said.

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

The Houthi delegation arrived in Saudi Arabia last week. It is the first such official visit to the Kingdom since the war broke out in Yemen in 2014, after the Iran-aligned group ousted a Saudi-backed government there.

READ: Yemen government welcomes Saudi, Oman efforts for peace in war-torn country

The talks are focused on a full re-opening of Houthi-controlled ports and Sana’a Airport, payment of wages for public servants, rebuilding efforts and a timeline for foreign forces to quit Yemen. An agreement would allow the United Nations to restart a broader political peace process.

The officials will travel with Omani mediators to Sana’a on Tuesday, the sources said.

The group has been at war 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.

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

The first official 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: Yemen’s Houthis in Saudi for ceasefire talks