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article imageUN envoy steps up contacts with Yemen rebels, govt

By AFP     Nov 24, 2018 in World

United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths met a Yemeni rebel leader in insurgent-held Sanaa Saturday and is to follow up by holding talks with Yemen's government in Riyadh, a UN source said.

The source said Griffiths will hold talks on Monday in the Saudi capital, where Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and other officials have taken up residence.

On Saturday, Mohammed Ali al-Huthi, head of the Huthi rebels' Higher Revolutionary Committee, met in Sanaa with the UN envoy, an AFP photographer said.

"We hope that his (Griffiths's) visit to Riyadh ends with positive results," Huthi told reporters after their talks.

Griffiths arrived Wednesday in Yemen ahead of planned peace talks in Sweden in December between the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels and pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

In a possible breakthrough, the envoy said Friday that he discussed with Huthi rebel officials "how the UN could contribute to keeping the peace" in the key port city of Hodeida.

"I am here to tell you today that we have agreed that the UN should now pursue actively and urgently detailed negotiations for a leading UN role in the port," he told reporters on what was his first visit to Hodeida.

Griffiths urged Yemen's warring parties to "keep the peace" in the rebel-held Red Sea port city, which serves as the entry point of nearly all imports and humanitarian aid into the impoverished country.

According to UN figures, nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition joined the conflict in 2015 to bolster Hadi, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Rights groups fear the actual toll is far higher.

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