UN envoy arrives in Yemen's capital for talks with Houthi rebels 

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-26 03:47:44|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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SANAA, July 25 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Wednesday for talks with Houthi rebels over peace process with the government.

Griffiths made no statement upon his arrival at the Sanaa Airport and headed to his residence.

The Yemeni government has demanded for a full withdrawal of the rebels from the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah as a condition to stop its offensive and resume peace talks, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani was quoted as saying by pro-government local almasdaronline news website on Tuesday.

The minister said the government forces are ready to advance into the port city if the mediation fails.

Meanwhile, the Houthis said they have proposed handing over the management of the port to the United Nations, but would defend the city in case of any military attack, according to a statement aired by the group-run Al Masirah TV on Wednesday.

On June 13, the Yemeni government forces, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, began an all-out offensive to retake the strategic port city.

Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates, which also led the coalition operations, declared a pause in the military operations inside the densely populated Hodeidah to support the UN envoy's peace efforts, which is aimed at convincing the rebels to withdraw from the city to avoid military confrontations and further casualties.

The UN official said Hodeidah seaport is operational, but roads leading to Hodeidah airportv and seaport, as well as the Houthi-controlled main road linking Hodeidah with Sanaa, remain blocked by sand and concrete barriers.

On July 10, Griffiths met with Yemen's internationally-recognized President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in his office in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden to push for resumption of the stalled peace process.

Griffiths' visit came a week after his meeting with Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi in Sanaa, which he described as "fruitful."

Humanitarian agencies have warned that any military attack on the port could lead to the world's biggest humanitarian catastrophe in modern history.

Hodeidah is the single most important point of entry for food and basic supplies to Yemen's northern provinces controlled by Houthis, including Sanaa.

The rebels stormed into Sanaa, Hodeidah and other northern cities in late 2014, forcing Hadi and his government into exile in Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia.

They said their move was a revolution against alleged government corruption.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen's conflict in March 2015 to roll back the Iran-allied Houthis and reinstate exiled government of Hadi.