Major breakthrough reported in Saudi - Yemen war

Major breakthrough reported in Saudi - Yemen war

The Saudi-led coalition link backing the Yemeni government against Huthi rebels in Yemen link conflict Tuesday announced a ceasefire link from Wednesday link morning and peace talks during the Islamic month of Ramadan starting next month.

"The coalition link hereby announces the cessation of military operations in Yemen link beginning at 0600 am (0300 GMT) Wednesday link, March 30, 2022," it said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

This "coincides with the launch of Yemeni-Yemeni consultations with the aim of creating the appropriate conditions for their success and creating a positive environment during the holy month of Ramadan for peace making in Yemen link," it added.

Ramadan is to start in the first days of April.

The rebels have shunned the meeting in Riyadh from Wednesday link that is hosted by the Gulf Cooperation Council and involves the Yemeni government and US and UN envoys to Yemen link. The Huthis say they won't travel to enemy territory for talks.

UN envoy Hans Grundberg earlier on Tuesday evening said on Twitter: "I'm very grateful for the unanimous support expressed for UN efforts on immediate de-escalation and a political settlement of the conflict."

The coalition link announcement comes after an official told AFP that Saudi Arabia link was waiting for "serious steps" from Yemen link rebels on a potential prisoner swap before responding to their offer of a ceasefire link.

*- Prisoner release talks -*

The Iran-backed Huthis called a three-day truce and dangled the possibility of a permanent end to hostilities on Saturday, seven years after the start of the war.

The offer was on condition that the Saudis end their blockade and air strikes and remove coalition link forces from Yemen link.

On Sunday, the Huthis said an agreement had been reached to free 1,400 of their fighters in exchange for 823 pro-government personnel, including 16 Saudis and three Sudanese.

The brother of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi is among the prisoners set for release, Abdul Qader Al-Murtada, head of the Huthis' prisoners affairs committee, wrote on Twitter.

Hadi Haig, his counterpart in Yemen link government, said the exchange was "under consideration".

Basheer Omar, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen link which handles the logistics of swaps, said earlier the organisation was pleased "to hear that some progress has been made in negotiations between the parties on another major release".

"We hope to soon see a release process for the detainees and their families. But we are also aware that negotiations of this kind during an active conflict are complex and require time," he told AFP.

The last prisoner swap was in October 2020, when 1,056 people were released on each side, according to the ICRC.