The UAE insisted Tuesday (June 26th) that Houthi (Ansarallah) fighters pull out of Yemen's Red Sea city of al-Hodeida, a day before a UN envoy holds a new round of crisis talks in the war-torn country, AFP reported.
"We are hopeful and we believe in the political process," said Reem al-Hashimi, the UAE minister of state for international co-operation.
But "we cannot imagine a setup where the Houthis can be in the city" of al-Hodeida.
The UN envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is due in the southern city of Aden on Wednesday for talks with President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Griffiths, who held a first round of meetings in Sanaa earlier this month, is holding talks with both sides to "return rapidly to the negotiating table", his office said.
The port has been held by the Iran-backed Houthis since 2014.
On June 13th, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and their allies in a pro-government regional coalition launched a major offensive to retake al-Hodeida port, through which nearly three quarters of Yemen's imports flow.
The coalition alleges the port has been used by the Houthis as an entry point for weapons smuggled from Iran.
The Houthis have said they may be willing to share control of al-Hodeida's port with the UN but say their forces must remain in the docks and the rest of the Red Sea city.
The UAE, which has troops deployed on the ground in western Yemen, demands the Houthis withdraw from both the port and city to avoid a military assault on densely-populated al-Hodeida.
On Monday, EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said ceding control of al-Hodeida port to the UN could be a "viable option" and warned it was important to try to avoid street battles in the city, which she said would cause "major humanitarian losses".