Yemenis, Saudis back peace talks

Yemenis attend the funeral of victims of a Saudi-led airstrike in Saada Yemen. Airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen are on a pace to kill more civilians in 2018 than last year despite US claims

Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Wednesday paused their offensive aimed at taking the strategic port city of Hudaydah from the Houthi fighters.

UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths says all warring parties have given firm assurances to attend peace talks which will be held soon in Sweden as 8.4 million people, including children, are on the brink of starvation in the warring country.

The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the rebels since 2015 in an attempt to restore that government to power. Amnesty International has documented serious threats to the hundreds of thousands of civilians believed to remain in the city, unable to leave due to the currency collapse, vastly increased fuel prices and exorbitant rents elsewhere. "I'm only saying stop one sale of arms to send the message that we are done with the war in Yemen". But, at the same time, until that war does end, please make certain that we, like the World Food Program, have the support financially that we need to scale up and ramp up.

He welcomed a call last month by Jim Mattis, the USA defence secretary, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, for a cessation of hostilities in Yemen and resumption of peace talks.

Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, led by Bob Menendez (R-New Jersey) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced the "Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018" - also with the sponsorship of three Democrats - to hold the Saudis accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"I would like to take the opportunity to announce to the members of this Council that we are about to conclude, and I had hoped to announce such a conclusion of an agreement between the parties on the exchange of prisoners and detainees and I have a feeling that it will be in the first it may still yet to be the first be signed agreement between the parties in this conflict, and we've made great progress", Griffiths said.

"This is a crucial moment for Yemen".


The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital of Sanaa by the Houthis, which overthrew Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

"We are committed to delivering all the necessary humanitarian aid to our brothers in Yemen".

On Monday, the United Kingdom is expected to present a draft resolution to the Security Council to address the conflict, Ambassador Karen Pierce said.

United Nations food chief David Beasley spotted a tiny foot sticking out from under a blanket in a hospital in Yemen that has been overwhelmed with malnourished children, so he tried to bring a smile to the face of the small patient.

This would address concerns from the Saudi-UAE alliance that weapons were being smuggled into Yemen for the Houthis through the port.

"It was just like tickling a ghost", Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, told reporters in NY on Friday after returning from a three-day visit to the war-torn, impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

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