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article imageYemen president backs UN peace talks but vows to 'liberate' key port

By AFP     Nov 15, 2018 in World

Yemen's president has backed UN-proposed talks to end fighting in his war-torn country but vowed to "liberate" the battleground rebel-held port city of Hodeida regardless of the peace process.

Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi "has issued directives to back all efforts that guarantee the interests of Yemen in reaching sustainable peace" based on UN resolutions, a spokesman for the president said via the official Saba news agency.

"The battle of the Yemeni people to liberate Hodeida is inevitable, whether through peace or war," the statement said.

Hadi's comments came hours after the United Arab Emirates, a key ally of the Yemeni government, said it supported UN plans to hold peace talks in Sweden by the end of the year.

After nearly four years of conflict between Yemen's Iran-linked Huthis and a pro-government military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the fight this month reached rebel-held Hodeida, home to Yemen's lifeline port.

The offensive sparked an international outcry over the fate of civilians trapped in the densely populated city as well as the port, which Yemenis across the impoverished country rely on for what little imports and aid reach the country.

Pro-government fighters on Wednesday said they had halted a 12-day offensive on the Huthis, who have been in control of the port city since 2014.

Hodeida was calm on Thursday, for a third consecutive day.

Analysts however say a coalition attack on the docks remains a possibility, which would put at risk 14 million aid-dependant Yemenis already on the verge of mass starvation.

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