JEDDAH: The Houthi militia has agreed to discuss handing over Hodeidah port to the UN, the Saudi ambassador to the US said on Tuesday.
Yemen’s main port has been held by the Iran-backed militants since the start of the conflict in 2014.
Fighting has centered on the city as pro-government Yemeni forces backed by the Arab coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia, have pushed to capture the city. The port is the main conduit for supplies and aid to large parts of the country.
“After stalling for months, the Houthis agreed to talk about handing some control of Hodeidah port, to the UN,” Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, said in a tweet.
After stalling for months, the Houthis agreed to talk about handing some control of Hudaidah port, to the UN. This comes as they are on the verge of being pushed out by force. proof that only consistent pressure on the Iran backed militia will lead to a political settlement. pic.twitter.com/RkjMSbeRqi
— Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان (@kbsalsaud) November 27, 2018
“This comes as they are on the verge of being pushed out by force. Proof that only consistent pressure on the Iran-backed militia will lead to a political settlement.”
The Houthis have previously refused to discuss handing over control of the port to the UN.
Fighting increased this month as the pro-government forces advanced into the city and edged closer to the port.
The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday that operations at the port have nearly halved in two weeks.
Last week, UN envoy Martin Griffiths traveled to Yemen and held talks in Hodeidah over how the UN could take control.
“I am here to tell you today that we have agreed that the UN should now pursue actively and urgently detailed negotiations for a leading UN role in the port and more broadly,” Griffiths said on Friday.
The envoy held talks in Riyadh on Monday with the Yemeni government, which is recognized internationally but was forced to flee the capital Sanaa after the Houthis staged a coup in 2014.
Griffiths is attempting to convene fresh peace talks in Geneva next month.