RIMBO, Sweden: The UN has proposed Yemen's Houthi militia withdraw from Hodeidah as part of a ceasefire deal placing the flashpoint port city under joint control, according to a document seen by AFP Monday.
The document, verified by two sources in a Yemeni government delegation at UN-brokered talks in Sweden, stipulates that the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Houthis cease all operations in the militia-held city in exchange for a Houthi withdrawal.
The area would then be put under the control of a joint committee and supervised by the United Nations.
The two sources said the government delegation was expected to issue a formal response to the proposal on Monday.
Houthi representatives were not immediately reachable for comment. A UN official in Rimbo was also not immediately reachable for comment.
Yemen's Saudi-backed government and Houthi militia, linked to Iran, convened in the rural village of Rimbo, Sweden on Thursday for what is expected to be a week of talks on a war that has killed upwards of 10,000 people in less than four years.
The Hodeidah proposal is a significant step closer to the demands of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government was driven out of the capital in a militant takeover in 2014 that included the seizure of Hodeidah -- the most valuable port in a country now at the brink of famine.
The Red Sea city has been at the heart of a government offensive to drive the militia out since June. The destruction of the port city would trigger a new humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where the UN estimates 14 million people face imminent starvation.
Hodeidah is the main entry point for humanitarian aid to Yemen. However, it also a key route for smuggling Iranian weapons and ammunition to the Houthi militias, including parts for ballistic missiles fired into Saudi Arabia.
The government accuses the militia of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeidah, and has demanded the militants withdraw unilaterally from the area. The Houthis refuse.
Both parties have said they would accept UN supervision of the port if it were under their sole control.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a UN official at the talks in Rimbo on Saturday evening said Hodeidah had proved the "most difficult" issue at the talks, the first since more than three months of talks collapsed in 2016.
Among the other issues under discussion in Sweden are potential humanitarian corridors, a prisoner swap and the reopening of the defunct Sanaa international airport.