UAE supports 'early convening' of UN Yemen talks


The fighting is now focused on Hodeida, a port city through which impoverished Yemen imports 70 per cent of its food and humanitarian aid. The Guardian reported that the World Food Program managed to distribute aid today, despite conflicting reports of sporadic airstrikes.

The Hodeida port, the entry point for some 80 percent of food imports and aid into Yemen, has been under blockade by the Saudi-led coalition since previous year.

United Nations mediator Martin Griffiths - whose efforts to host negotiations in Geneva in September failed - met with Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani in Riyadh on Monday for talks on reviving the peace process, Saudi Arabia s state news agency reported.

"We are now warning that by allowing this to go on, parties to the conflict and their worldwide backers will be responsible for the death, injury and suffering of millions of people", Mohamed Abdi, the council's director in Yemen, said in a statement.

Medics and military sources say at least 149 people have been killed in 24 hours of heavy clashes on Sunday as government loyalists, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, fight to oust Houthi rebels from the Red Sea city.

The port's deputy director, Yahya Sharafeddine, said the main entrance to the docks had been "the target of air raids" but was fully functioning.

During a visit to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on Monday, Hunt met Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as leaders from the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. They said they would resume operations if they came under attack.

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The Hodeida offensive has sparked worldwide outcry unprecedented in almost four years of conflict between the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government.

Four other port employees told AFP that one strike had killed a rebel commander and three of his guards, while a second strike had wounded another commander and his guards.

A Hodeida resident reported an ebb in fighting around the city by Monday evening, but UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned of a possible "catastrophic situation" if the port is destroyed.

A source in the pro-government coalition said the insurgents had pushed back a large-scale assault aimed at moving towards the port.

"The coalition sees military pressure as key to ensuring the Huthis come to the table and are ready to compromise", said Dickinson.

Hodeida port is under a near-total blockade by Saudi Arabia and its allies, who accuse Iran of smuggling arms to the Huthis.

"Serious consideration is being given to a set of political ideas and confidence-building measures that would allow for the start of political talks in Sweden by the end of November", the statement continued.