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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Yemen demands Houthis release captives to restart talks

Yemen says that the rebels must also 'facilitate the arrival of humanitarian aid'

Yemeni fighters from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to the Yemen's Saudi-backed government, attend a graduation ceremony in the country's third city Taez, on July 17, 2018. AFP
Yemeni fighters from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to the Yemen's Saudi-backed government, attend a graduation ceremony in the country's third city Taez, on July 17, 2018. AFP

The Yemeni government said on Sunday that it will return to the negotiating table with Houthi rebels if they release all the prisoners and facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid.

"It is necessary to show goodwill before the start of new talks,” Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr said during talks with UN envoy Martin Griffiths in Riyadh, the Saba news agency reported.

“The Iran-backed Houthi militia must withdraw fully from the capital Sanaa and other cities, hand over its weapons, and the legitimate power [must] return.”

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Houthi fire kills 25 civilians south of Hodeidah

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Mr Griffiths has been trying for weeks to restart talks on ending the conflict between Yemen’s internationally-recognised government and the Houthis that has killed nearly 10,000 people in the past three years.

The war has pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine, triggering what the UN says is the world's worst single humanitarian crisis.

Pro-government forces backed up by an Arab coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have paused their offensive on the Hodeidah port in a bid to give peace efforts a chance.

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Pro-government forces thwart two Houthi attacks in Hodeidah

Houthis refuse to withdraw from Yemen’s Hodeidah

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The coalition intervened in the war in March 2015 at the request of the government of Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to restore its power after the rebels took control of Sanaa.

UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash warned on Sunday that troops could "liberate" the port city if efforts fail.

“We are waiting for the efforts of UN envoy Martin Griffiths to achieve a Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah to avoid a confrontation in the city. We are witnessing a front where the militia is embedded in the middle of an angry population and it is noticeable that the militia troops are running away and their attempts to mobilise are desperate efforts,” he tweeted on Sunday night.

“The coalition’s advances towards Hodeidah deserve international praise for its consideration of the humanitarian situation and of the lives of civilians. Our hope is the the UN envoy’s political efforts will lead to the liberation of the city, [but] even without that, the liberation of Hodeidah is coming."