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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

UN envoy Martin Griffiths resumes Yemen peace efforts with visit to Sanaa

Dozens of rebels killed in Hodeidah as government forces receive reinforcements

UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths arrives at Sanaa airport on September 16, 2018. AFP
UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths arrives at Sanaa airport on September 16, 2018. AFP

The UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in Sanaa on Sunday in a new attempt to revive peace negotiations between the government and the Houthis following the rebels' refusal to attend talks scheduled in Geneva earlier this month after imposing last-minute conditions.

Mr Griffiths made no comments to reporters at Sanaa airport, but local sources confirmed that the envoy's visit to the rebel-held capital was to pressure the Houthis to seriously engage in the UN peace efforts.

The pro-Houthi Saba news agency reported that Mr Griffiths met the rebels' foreign minister Hisham Sharaf and discussed his talks with the government delegation that travelled to Geneva.

The Houthi official reportedly told Mr Griffiths he supported the peace efforts and called for trust-building measures such as the complete reopening of Sanaa airport to passenger and commercial flights and for the government to pay the salaries of civil servants in all areas of Yemen.

Saba had reported on Saturday that the Houthis and the UN had reached an agreement for scheduled UN flights to start transferring patients in critical condition for treatment outside the country from September 18.

One of the demands raised by Houthis to attend the Geneva talks was to allow the delegation's aircraft to carry wounded rebel fighters to Muscat for treatment.

Meanwhile, government forces backed by the Saudi-led military coalition pressed their offensive towards the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Sunday with fierce clashes in the area around the Kilo 16 intersection on the main road linking the city to Sanaa. A military source said 33 rebel fighters were killed over two days of fighting.

"The pro-government forces have been besieging the Houthi fighters from three directions, pushing the Houthis to surrender," the source said.

The government's Al Amalikah Brigades received reinforcements from Aden ahead of a new push towards to capture Hodeidah port in coming days, the source said.

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