July 8, 2015 / 4:59 PM / in 2 years

Yemen government tells U.N. it agrees to conditional truce

DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemen’s government told the United Nations on Wednesday it would agree to a truce to end more than three months of fighting provided key “guarantees” were met, a spokesman said.

A man reacts as he stands next to wreckage at the site of a car bomb attack outside his house in Sanaa June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

“The Yemeni authorities have informed the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon of its agreement to implement a truce in the coming days,” spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters by phone from the government’s seat of exile in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the spokesman said, had “set guarantees for the success of the truce”.

These included the release of prisoners by Yemen’s dominant Houthi group, including the loyalist defense minister, as well as the Houthis’ withdrawal from four southern and eastern provinces where they are fighting local militias.

The United Nations has received a letter from the Yemeni government and was “seeking clarification from the parties,” said Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Saudi Arabia and an Arab coalition have been bombing the Iran-allied Houthis and their allies in Yemen’s army in an effort to back armed opponents of the Houthis and restore Hadi.

There was no immediate comment from the Houthi movement, which views its takeover of the capital Sanaa last September, and of much of the country since, as a revolution against a corrupt government backed by the West.

The Houthis have not yet accepted a U.N. Security Council Resolution passed in April which recognizes Hadi as the legitimate president and calls on them to quit seized land.

Aid agencies say the fighting and a near-blockade imposed by an alliance of Arab states aimed at weapons deliveries to the Houthis has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, with most people needing some kind of aid.

More than 3,000 people have been killed in the conflict and over a million displaced, and the U.N. has been urgently pushing for a pause to help impoverished people.

“We’re optimistic (the Houthis) will agree, because this will guarantee the sending of aid to Yemenis,” Badi said.

Reporting by Noah Browning, additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; editing by Andrew Roche and G Crosse

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