The warring sides in the long-running conflict in Yemen have committed to steps towards a ceasefire and engage in a United Nations-led peace process, according to the UN special envoy for Yemen.
The announcement by Hans Grundberg on Saturday marks the latest step to end a nine-year war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and triggered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
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Following a series of meetings between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iran-aligned Houthis in Saudi Arabia and Oman, a statement by Grundberg’s office said he “welcomes the parties’ commitment to a set of measures to implement a nationwide ceasefire, improve living conditions in Yemen, and engage in preparations for the resumption of an inclusive political process”.
The envoy “will now engage with the parties to establish a roadmap under UN auspices that includes these commitments and supports their implementation”, the statement said.
The plan, along with a ceasefire, will also include the two sides’ commitment to resume oil exports, pay all public sector salaries, open roads in Taiz and other parts of Yemen, and “further ease restrictions on Sanaa Airport and the Hodeidah port”, it added.
Yemen has been gripped with conflict since the Houthis took control of capital Sanaa in 2014, triggering a Saudi-led military intervention in support of the government forces the following year.
A UN-brokered ceasefire that took effect in April 2022 brought a sharp reduction in hostilities in the country of 30 million people. The truce expired in October last year, though fighting largely remains on hold.
In September, Houthi officials visited Riyadh for the first time since the war broke out. That followed a first round of Omani-mediated consultations between Riyadh and Sanaa.
The peace initiatives gained momentum after regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to re-establish ties in a deal brokered by China.
The UN envoy’s announcement also came amid a flurry of Houthi attacks on key shipping lanes in the Red Sea in solidarity with the Palestinians under attack in the Gaza Strip for more than two months.