April 23, 2024

Iran-backed Houthis have been engaged in talks with Saudi officials for five days in a bid to reach agreement.

Houthi negotiators left Riyadh after a five-day round of talks with Saudi officials on a potential agreement that could pave the way to an end to the conflict in Yemen, sources familiar with the meeting and Houthi media have said.

The Houthi delegation and Omani mediators landed in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Tuesday after a round of negotiations in Saudi Arabia, the Houthis’ al-Massirah TV said.

Some progress has been made on some of the main sticking points between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia, including a timeline for foreign troops exiting Yemen and a mechanism for paying public wages, two sources said, adding that the sides would meet for more talks after consultations “soon”.

The Houthi delegation arrived in Saudi Arabia last week. It was the first such official visit to the kingdom since the war broke out in Yemen in 2014 after the Iran-aligned group ousted a Saudi-backed government there.

The talks are reportedly focused on a full reopening of Houthi-controlled ports and Sanaa airport, payment of wages for public servants, rebuilding efforts, and a timeline for foreign forces to quit Yemen. An agreement would allow the United Nations to restart a broader political peace process involving other parties to the Yemeni conflict, including the Yemeni government and southern separatist forces.

The Houthis have been at war against a Saudi-led military coalition since 2015, a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and left 80 percent of Yemen’s population dependent on humanitarian aid.

The United States has put pressure on its ally Saudi Arabia to end the war and linked some US military support to the kingdom to ending its involvement in Yemen.

The first official round of the Oman-mediated consultations between Riyadh and Sanaa, which are running in parallel to UN peace efforts, was held in April when Saudi envoys visited Sanaa.

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