.UN-mediated Yemen talks held in Sweden late last week concluded with an agreement could see a ceasefire come into effect in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida – a strategic gateway into the war-torn country where most of the international humanitarian aid is offloaded and which is currently under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. according to UN general secretary Antonio Guterres, who also that a prisoner exchange could also be a part of the deal.
Guterres also said that the UN negotiators hope that the warring factions can come to an agreement on the reopening of the airport in the capital, Saana, and the resumption of oil exports to help alleviate the economic burden of the growing humanitarian catastrophe that has afflicted the country’s civilian population.
“This will facilitate humanitarian access and the flow of goods to the civilian population and it will improve the living conditions for millions of Yemenis,” Guterres said.
The deal was hailed by the World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director, David Beasley, who noted that 70% of food imports come through Hodeida.
14 million Yemenis are on the brink of starvation, according to UN reports.
The talks in Rimbo, near Stockholm, were attended by the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and the UK.
Pressure on Saudi Arabia is increasing, as the US Senate voted by 60-to-39 to advance a congressional resolution that would end US backing for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen. The Saudi ambassador to the United States and brother of embattled Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that his country “strongly supports the agreement.”
The Crown Prince has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks after increasingly strong evidence has pointed to his direct involvement in order the brutal murder of Saudi-born investigative journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul this past October.