United Nations draft resolution urges Yemen peace talks

United Nations draft resolution urges Yemen peace talks

The latest Saudi-led offensive, which began last summer, has been focused on capturing the key rebel-held port city of Hodeida, through which nearly all of Yemen's food and desperately needed humanitarian aid flows.

Saudi King Salman heaped praise on the kingdom's judiciary Monday, in his first public remarks since critic Jamal Khashoggi's murder tipped the country into one of its worst global crises. It was by far the biggest concession from the Houthis since they left the southern port city of Aden in 2015.

Global pressure has been mounting on Yemen's warring parties to end the conflict, which has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed the country to the verge of starvation. It said in August 2016 that according to medical centres at least 10,000 people had been killed, but the actual figure could be much higher.

He said there had been "firm assurances" from both sides that they would attend the talks, although no date has been finalised.

The draft resolution also calls on the parties "to cease all attacks on densely populated civilian areas across Yemen" and halt missile and drone attacks "against regional countries and maritime areas".

For its part, the Saudi-UAE coalition briefly paused its air strikes on the vital port city of Hodeidah, but then resumed them on Sunday in an apparent bid to gain more military advantage before peace talks, which are due to be held in Sweden by the end of the year.

Mohammed Ali al-Huthi's comments came after United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths said he would visit Sanaa this week to finalise arrangements for peace talks in Sweden. It also calls for an unhindered flow of commercial and humanitarian goods across Yemen.

Yemenis cautiously welcomed the announcement.

Yemen's civil war began in the wake of its Arab Spring uprising, when the Houthis swept down from their northern stronghold and took the capital, Sanaa, in 2014, with the help of troops loyal to Yemen's former strongman, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"The kingdom was founded on Islamic principles of justice and equality, and we are proud of the efforts of the judiciary and the public prosecution", the king said in his annual address to the Shura Council, a top advisory body.

The Houthi defence ministry said it would respond to any hostilities from the coalition.

"Efforts to resume the peace process remain fragile. given the mutual distrust between the warring parties".

Houthi-run Al Masirah TV reported on Monday that Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile on Saudi-backed forces in the desert of Midi, bordering Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition has been waging a war in Yemen since March 2015 to push back the Houthis and restore to power Hadi.

Western countries have provided arms and intelligence to the Arab states in the alliance, but have shown increasing reservations about the conflict since the murder of US -based Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul early last month.

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