Riyadh, March 23 (AFP/APP): Saudi Arabia on Monday offered Yemen’s Huthi rebels a “comprehensive” UN-supervised ceasefire, as part of a series of fresh proposals aimed at ending a catastrophic six-year conflict.
But the Huthis swiftly dismissed the initiative, which comes as the Iran-backed rebels escalate attacks on the kingdom — including its oil facilities — and push to seize the Saudi-backed Yemeni government’s last northern stronghold in the war-torn nation.
The initiative includes “a comprehensive ceasefire across the country under the supervision of the United Nations”, a Saudi government statement said. Riyadh also proposed reopening the international airport in Sanaa, the rebel-held capital, and restarting political negotiations between the Yemeni government and the Huthis, the statement added.
The kingdom’s plan also called for depositing taxes and customs revenue from ships carrying oil to the Red Sea port of Hodeida — a key conduit for desperately needed aid — in a joint account of the Yemeni central bank. “We want the guns to fall completely silent,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
“The initiative will take effect as soon as the Huthis agree to it,” he added, hailing it as “an opportunity to end the crisis” in Yemen. The Yemeni government welcomed the initiative, while the Huthis brushed it off as “nothing new” as they reiterated their demand that a Saudi-led air and sea blockade on Yemen be completely lifted.
“Saudi Arabia must declare an end to the aggression and lift the blockade completely,” said Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam, according to the rebel’s Al-Masirah television.
Riyadh led a military coalition into Yemen in 2015 to prop up the internationally recognised government, but it has struggled to oust the highly motivated rebels.
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