RIYADH/TEHRAN: Saudi Arabia on Thursday proposed a five-day humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen to allow aid deliveries, calling on Houthi rebels to accept the offer.
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced the proposal after talks with visiting United States Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged the rebels to agree to the initiative.
Kerry was in Saudi Arabia to push for a “pause” in air strikes in Yemen while the country’s exiled authorities urged a foreign ground offensive against rebels.
Weeks of air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition have failed to halt an advance by Houthi rebels in Yemen, and concern has been mounting over increasing civilian deaths and a growing humanitarian crisis.
In a letter to the Security Council on Wednesday, Yemen’s mission to the United Nations said the rebels were carrying out “barbaric violations” in the southern city of Aden and pleaded for action.
“We urge the international community to quickly intervene by land forces to save Yemen, especially Aden and Taez,” the letter said.
After arriving in Riyadh on Wednesday, Kerry met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. On Thursday, he held talks with Hadi, now based in the Saudi capital, and with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir.
Kerry was to cap his visit by meeting King Salman, after Riyadh said it is considering temporary halts in air raids to allow aid deliveries into Yemen.
IRAN TO SEND AID SHIP TO YEMEN
Iran’s Red Crescent will send a ship carrying 2,500 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Yemen, official media said Thursday, following weeks of deadly fighting between Tehran-backed rebels and loyalist forces.
Officials at the Iranian Red Crescent have informed their Saudi counterparts by fax of the planned shipment, the IRNA news agency said, quoting the organisation’s secretary general Ali Asghar Ahmadi.
The Iranian vessel is expected to leave on Saturday and will take about 10 days to reach Yemen, Ahmadi said.
Members of the Iranian Red Crescent will also be sent “to help the Yemeni people,” he added.
The Saudi-led coalition bombed the runway at the airport in the rebel-held capital Sanaa on April 28, saying an Iranian plane had “defied” a blockade on Yemeni airspace.
Days earlier, Iran summoned the Saudi envoy to protest after his country’s warplanes allegedly turned back Iranian Red Crescent aid flights headed for Yemen.