TEHRAN (Press Shia) – The United Nations proposed at initial talks between Yemen’s warring parties that they withdraw from the contested port city of Hudaydah, a lifeline for millions facing famine, and place it under the control of an interim entity.
It was not clear if Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and forces loyal to fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi would accept the proposal made at peace talks in Sweden, Reuters reported.
After the two sides agreed to exchange 15,000 prisoners, the consultations revolve around thornier issues such as the status of Hudaydah and the reopening of Sana’a airport.
The Houthis control most population centers in Yemen, including Hudaydah and the capital Sana’a.
Three sources familiar with the talks said that the proposal presented by UN mediator Martin Griffiths envisions a “joint committee or independent entity” be set up to manage the city and port after both sides withdraw. UN monitors could be deployed in Hudaydah, they said, adding that talks were continuing.
Both parties have agreed to a UN role in the Red Sea port, the entry point for most of Yemen’s commercial goods and vital aid, but differ on who should run the city itself. The Houthis say Hudaydah should be declared a neutral zone.
Ambassadors of the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council are present at the talks and were pressing the parties to agree to the Hudaydah proposal, the sources said.