Next round of Yemen talks could be in Amman: Rebels

Houthi fighters pull out of the port area in Hodeidah

Houthi fighters pull out of the port area in Hodeidah

As Houthi militiamen on Saturday launched an attack on the UN's World Food Program warehouses in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah, the militia's leadership was negotiating with United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths.

United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq on Thursday confirmed the cessation of hostilities continued to hold in Hodeidah, despite mutual accusations of violations by the rebels and Saudi-backed government.

Griffiths, scheduled to see Yemeni government officials in the Saudi capital Riyadh after meeting the rebels, hopes to bring the warring sides together later this month - possibly in Kuwait - to follow up on progress made at December s talks.

In the short term, the possible passage of a UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution in the coming months could pressure both the Saudi coalition and Houthi forces to the negotiating table.

But a precarious calm has largely held in the city since a ceasefire agreement came into force on December 18.

Rebel-held Hodeidah was for months the main front line in the Yemen war after government forces supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies launched an offensive to capture it in June.

Under the deal, both sides should withdraw from the area.

While the deployment of observers is a major step in the peace process, it remains only a stopgap until longer-term peace talks can continue.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Houthi said a second round of negotiations between the warring parties could be hosted "soon" in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

Yemen's President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi and many of his officials are based in the Saudi capital.

Mr Hadi has accused the rebels of sabotaging the ceasefire agreement.

The president called on the worldwide community to take a firm position in pressuring the Houthis to abide by what was agreed in Sweden.

The fighting flared up near Hodeidah University and the Rabasah quarter in the southern edge of the port city despite a UN-brokered cease-fire during the peace talks in Stockholm, Sweden last month.

The global community has been trying for months to avert an all-out government assault on Hodeidah, the entry point for most of Yemen's commercial goods and aid supplies, and a lifeline for millions of Yemenis on the verge of starvation.

The ceasefire accord is regarded as the most significant step towards ending the conflict that has raged in Yemen since 2015 and created a humanitarian crisis where two-thirds of the population is dependent on humanitarian aid.

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