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December 13, 2018 1:16 pm

Yemen’s Warring Parties Agree to Hodeidah Ceasefire at End of Peace Talks

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Head of Houthi delegation Mohammed Abdul-Salam speaks at the Yemen peace talks closing press conference at the Johannesberg castle in Rimbo, near Stockholm, Dec. 13, 2018. Photo: TT News Agency / Pontus Lundahl via Reuters.

Yemen’s warring parties agreed to a ceasefire in the strategic Houthi-held port city of Hodeidah and to place it under the control of local forces, the United Nations chief said at the close of peace talks in Sweden on Thursday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that a political framework for peace negotiations would be discussed at another round of talks between the Saudi-backed government and the Iranian-aligned Houthis.

The Houthis control most population centres in Yemen including the capital Sanaa, from where they ousted the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2014. The government is currently based in the southern port of Aden.

“We have reached an agreement on Hodeidah port and city. We will see a neutral redeployment of forces in the port and city and the establishment of a governorate-wide ceasefire,” Guterres told a press conference in Rimbo, outside Stockholm.

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He said armed forces of both parties would withdraw from Hodeidah. Coalition troops have massed on the outskirts of the city, the main entrypoint for most of Yemen’s commercial imports and vital aid supplies.

“I am glad that we made real progress here in Sweden,” he said, describing the deal as a “big step” for the Yemeni people.

Coalition leaders Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have come under pressure by Western allies, many of which supply the alliance with arms and intelligence, to end the nearly four-year-old war that has killed tens of thousands of people.

The coalition intervened in the war in 2015 to restore Hadi’s government but has been bogged down in a military stalemate for years.

Riyadh has come under increased Western scrutiny over its activities following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate in October.

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