WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi movement in Yemen will begin a two-week ceasefire on Thursday, senior Saudi officials said on Wednesday.
The ceasefire will start at noon Saudi Arabia time on Thursday, they said.
The officials, briefing reporters by telephone, said the ceasefire was aimed at giving the Iran-backed Houthi movement an opportunity to join U.N.-sponsored talks with the Yemeni government on a settlement to the five-year-old conflict and preventing a coronavirus outbreak.
“We will remain committed for the ceasefire for two weeks,” said one Saudi official.
The official said that Riyadh hoped that during that period the U.N. Security Council would help pressure the Houthis “to stop the hostilities” and join the ceasefire “and also to be serious in such engagement with the Yemeni government”.
He warned that Saudi Arabia would “defend our people” if the Houthis launched any cross-border ballistic missile attacks during the ceasefire. But, he did not elaborate on how the kingdom would respond to such strikes.
Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis