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Yemen warring parties hold fresh talks in Amman

Meeting follows Houthis' withdrawal from Hodeida two days earlier

By Reuters - May 14,2019 - Last updated at May 14,2019

Yemeni coast guards look on at Saleef Port in the western Red Sea Hodeida province after their redeployment following the withdrawal of Houthi rebel fighters on Monday (AFP photo)

ADEN — Yemen's warring parties started fresh UN-sponsored talks in Jordan on Monday, Yemeni officials said, two days after Houthi forces began withdrawing from the ports of Hodeida, breaking a six month stalemate.

The talks will focus on sharing out revenues from Hodeida's three Red Sea ports to help relieve an urgent humanitarian crisis, they said.

The Iran-aligned Houthi group began on Saturday a unilateral pullout from the ports of Saleef, Ras Isa and Hodeida, handing them over to UN-supervised local forces as agreed under a pact with the Saudi-backed government last December that had stalled for months.

“The UN and its special envoy are sponsoring talks in Amman... to discuss the issue of salaries and to make the economic situation neutral,” Mohammed Ali Al Houthi, head of the Houthis’ Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said in a Tweet.

A Yemeni government official confirmed the talks to Reuters. A UN official said the office of UN envoy Martin Griffiths was facilitating the meeting.

Hodeida, the main entry point for Yemen’s commercial and aid imports, became the focus of the four-year conflict last year when the Saudi-led coalition tried twice to seize the port to cut off the Houthis’ main supply line.

Under the Stockholm agreement for a truce and troop withdrawal by both sides from Hodeida, the ports’ revenues would be gathered in the Hodeida branch of the central bank to help pay public wages.


Humanitarian crisis


The war has devastated Yemen’s economy, exacerbating an urgent humanitarian crisis with millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation.

Soaring prices have put basic commodities out of reach for many Yemenis and the central bank has struggled to pay public-sector salaries as foreign exchange reserves evaporated.

The United Nations will help in the management of the Hodeida ports, which will be under control of Yemen’s Red Sea Port Corporation and local coast guards, and assist in inspection of ships.

The Sunni Muslim military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government of Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which was ousted from power in Sanaa in late 2014 by the Houthi movement.

The group, which says its revolution is against corruption, holds the biggest urban centres. 

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