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UN says Yemen’s warring sides agree to renew existing truce


By
The Associated Press

The United Nations says Yemen’s warring parties agreed Tuesday to renew an existing truce for another two months after international concerted efforts.

The U.N.’s envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg said in a statement that Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the country’s Houthi rebels agreed to extend the truce.

The statement said that both sides of the conflict had also agreed to try to arrive at a “an expanded truce agreement as soon as possible.”

The renewal announcement came hours after an Omani delegation concluded three-day talks with the Houthi leadership, including with the rebels’ chief Abdel-Malek al-Houthi in the capital of Sanaa.

Mohammed Abdel-Salam, the Houthi chief negotiator and spokesman, said on Twitter the talks focused on “consolidating chances of halting the war and lifting the blockade” imposed by the Saudi-led coalition.

The cease-fire initially took effect on April 2 and was extended June 2, despite both sides traded accusations of violating the truce and the failure to lift a yearslong blockade of the city of Taiz by the Houthis.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Rashad al-Alimi, head of the presidential government to press for the truce renewal. He said the cease-fire “provides the best opportunity for peace in years — we must not let it slip away.”

The crease-fire was the first nationwide halt of fighting in the past six years of a conflict that turned into a proxy war between regional foes Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014, when the Houthis descended from their northern enclave and took over the capital, forcing the government to flee to the south before its exile in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition – then backed by the United Sates – entered the war in early 2015 to try to restore the government to power.

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