UN talks bring Yemen's warring sides closer to pullback of forces

Three days of UN-brokered talks between Yemen's government and the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) have brought the warring parties closer to agreement on redeploying their forces from al-Hodeidah, the UN said Tuesday (February 5th).

Envoys from the two sides have been meeting aboard a UN vessel in the port of al-Hodeidah since Sunday to hammer out details of the military pullback in line with a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden in December.

The UN push to persuade pro-government forces and Houthi militias to abide by the Stockholm agreement is "beginning to pay off", said a UN statement.

"Today, the parties are closer to agreeing modalities for phase one redeployment than they were six weeks ago," it added.

Phase one provides for a redeployment from the ports of al-Hodeidah, Saleef, Ras Issa and from parts of the city where there are humanitarian facilities, according to the agreement.

That was scheduled to happen two weeks after the ceasefire went into force on December 18th, but that deadline was missed as the government and Houthis were locked in a dispute over the interpretation of the agreement.

The talks aboard the ship were led by retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, who on Tuesday handed over his duties as head of the UN observer mission in Yemen to Danish Gen. Michael Lollesgaard.

Lollesgaard was set to chair a new round of talks aboard the ship Wednesday.

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