UN envoy holds talks with Yemen president amid preparations to boost Hodeidah monitoring team

Martin Griffiths arrived in Sanaa on Saturday before traveling to Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2019
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UN envoy holds talks with Yemen president amid preparations to boost Hodeidah monitoring team

  • Martin Griffiths arrived in Riyadh after meeting Houthi leaders in Sanaa on Saturday
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked for the deployment of up to 75 observers to Hodeidah

JEDDAH: The United Nations envoy for Yemen held talks Tuesday with the country’s president, as he sought to shore up a truce in key port Hodeidah.

Martin Griffiths met with the Yemeni authorities after seeing Houthi militant leaders in Sanaa on a tour aimed at ensuring both sides make good on a ceasefire deal agreed in Sweden last month.

Yemen’s internationally recognized leader Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi expressed his “support for the efforts and work” of Griffiths at the talks in the Saudi capital, the Saba news agency reported.

The head of the president’s office Abdullah al-Alimi wrote on Twitter that Hadi remained committed to the Sweden accord and stood ready to open up “all humanitarian access.”

Griffiths is set to brief the UN Security Council Wednesday on the ceasefire deal, AFP repoted.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked the Security Council to approve the deployment of up to 75 observers to Hodeidah for six months to monitor the ceasefire, Reuters reported.

The council will need to take action on Guterres' request by about Jan. 20, when a 30-day authorization for an advance monitoring team led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert expires.

It was not immediately clear how many monitors were currently on the ground with Cammaert. 

The United Nations has said the monitors are not uniformed or armed.

In his Dec. 31 proposal to the council, seen by Reuters, Guterres described the proposed 75-strong team as "a nimble presence" to monitor compliance of the deal and establish and assess facts and conditions on the ground.

The UN has said the truce has largely held in the city since the agreement came into force on Dec. 18.

The pro-Hadi Arab coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia, has accused the Houthis of dozens of violations of the truce.

Griffiths is looking to push on with steps agreed   in Sweden, including the redeployment of rival forces from Hodeidah.

He is also hoping to bring the sides together again for a new round of peace talks later this month.

The war in Yemen was sparked when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.

The conflict has unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, which says 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine.

*With AFP and Reuters


Turkey blocked from US F-35 program after Russian missile purchase

Updated 12 min 42 sec ago
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Turkey blocked from US F-35 program after Russian missile purchase

  • “The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program"

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Wednesday that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, a move that had been long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week.
The first parts of the S-400 air defense system were flown to the Murted military air base northwest of Ankara on Friday, sealing Turkey’s deal with Russia, which Washington had struggled for months to prevent.
“The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the program,” said Ellen Lord, the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
“The United States is spending between $500 and $600 million in non-recurring engineering in order to shift the supply chain,” she said.
Used by NATO and other US allies, the F-35 stealth fighter jet is the world’s most advanced jet fighter. Washington is concerned that deploying the S-400 with the F-35 would allow Russia to gain too much inside information of the stealth system.
“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” the White House said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.
Washington has long said the acquisition may lead to Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 program.
The Pentagon had already laid out a plan to remove Turkey from the program, including halting any new training for Turkish pilots on the advanced aircraft.
“The situation with Turkey is a government-to-government matter and we’ll comply with any guidance issued by the United States Government,” said a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin Corp. , the prime contractor on the jet.