Saudi Arabia Signals Willingness to End Yemen Conflict

Saudis released a group of Yemeni prisoners belonging to the Iran-aligned Houthi group, a step that may help end a war that has killed tens of thousands and pushed millions to the brink of famine

Reuters
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Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during the Arab summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia as tensions with Iran and wars in Syria and Yemen threaten stability in the region, April 15, 2018.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during the Arab summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia as tensions with Iran and wars in Syria and Yemen threaten stability in the region, April 15, 2018.Credit: Amr Nabil/AP
Reuters

Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said there is a possibility of calming the situation in Yemen as a prelude to reaching a settlement in the four-year conflict, Saudi-owned channel Al-Arabiya cited him as saying on Friday.

"There is a possibility to calm down the situation that will be followed by a settlement in Yemen," Jubeir told a conference in Rome, according to Al-Arabiya.

Saudi Arabia released at the end of November a group of Yemeni prisoners belonging to the Iran-aligned Houthi group, a step that may support efforts to end a war that has killed tens of thousands and pushed millions to the brink of famine.

The detainees are from the Iran-aligned movement that a Saudi-led military coalition has been fighting since March 2015, after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government in Sanaa.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which transported the detainees from Saudi Arabia to Yemen, said 128 people were being repatriated. On Tuesday, the coalition said it had released 200 prisoners. The reason for the difference in numbers was not immediately clear.

Reuters witnesses saw two ICRC planes carrying the detainees arrive at Sanaa airport.

"The ICRC sees the release as a positive step and hopes that it will spur further releases and repatriations of conflict-related detainees," the aid agency said in a statement. It said it had acted as a neutral intermediary and was not involved in any of the talks that preceded the release.

Riyadh has been holding informal talks with the Houthis since late September about a ceasefire, sources have said, as it seeks to exit an unpopular war after its main coalition partner the United Arab Emirates withdrew troops.

The United Nations is trying to restart political negotiations to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed millions to the brink of famine.

The conflict is seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis, who control Sanaa and most big urban centres, say they are fighting a corrupt system.

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