LONDON: The next round of negotiations on the Yemen crisis depends on the success of redeploying troops from Hodeidah, the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said Friday.
Under a ceasefire agreement in December, the Houthi militants were meant to withdraw from position in the port city that has become the focal point of the war.
Griffiths said he was working hard to overcome all obstacles in releasing Yemeni prisoners, and that slow but steady progress is being made to stop the conflict in Yemen.
The UN envoy added during an interview on Al Arabiya TV that he was confident direct negotiations between parties involved in the conflict would take place, and that it is very important that the first stage of redepolyment in Hodeidah is implemented successfully.
He explained that redeployment in Hodeidah includes the withdrawal of Houthi militias from the ports of Ras Issa and Salif, noting that "Yemeni parties want to implement the (Stockholm) agreement, but they need a scheme from the monitoring committee."
Meanwhile, the coordinator of the panel of experts on Yemen Ahmed Himmiche said that smugglers and fictitious companies are working with the Houthis to transport oil from Iran.
Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that Yemen’s government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia and an Arab coalition, and the Houthi militias have demonstrated that they are able to deliver on commitments they made in December in Stockholm by agreeing on the first phase of redeployment from three key ports.
He said forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, beginning “possibly” on Tuesday or Wednesday. This will be followed by a pullout from the major port of Hodeidah and critical parts of the city that will allow access to the Red Sea Mills, a major UN storage facility holding enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, he said.