DUBAI/ SANAA: A U.S. official has presented a proposal for a comprehensive ceasefire in Yemen to the country’s dominant Houthis at a meeting in Oman, a member of the Houthi negotiating team said Thursday.
Negotiators will return to Houthi-controlled Sanaa Friday carrying the plan offered by U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon in talks in Muscat, he said.
Shannon met the Houthi team, officials of the allied General People’s Congress (GPC) party and an Omani mediator in Muscat earlier this week to discuss how to end a war which has killed over 10,000 people and displaced more than three million.
U.S. officials had no immediate comment on the report.
The negotiating team member did not disclose details of the proposal. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 25 he had agreed in talks with Gulf Arab states and the United Nations on a plan to restart peace talks on Yemen with a goal of forming a unity government.
The Houthi negotiating team has been in Oman since the collapse of United Nations-led peace talks last month, after Saudi authorities in control of Yemen’s airspace refused to grant the Houthi team access to Sanaa, the Houthi source added.
Saudi authorities have now agreed to allow the negotiating team to return to Yemen in a U.N. airplane, he said.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies launched a military campaign in Yemen in March last year to support the government of Yemeni President Abed-Rabbou Mansour Hadi, and have declared the country’s airspace a “restricted zone”.
Peace talks foundered after the Houthis and the GPC announced the formation of a 10-member governing council on Aug 6., ignoring a U.N. warning that such a move would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions on how to solve the conflict.
In a statement on the Kerry proposal on Thursday, the governing council reiterated that its willingness to restart peace talks depended on implementation of a full ceasefire, including the lifting of the no-fly zone and siege imposed by the Saudi-led coalition.
Forces allied to the Houthis attacked across the border into Saudi Arabia’s southern Jizan province on Thursday, with both sides claiming victory and giving conflicting casualty tolls.
Sources in the Saudi-led coalition said Saudi forces at the Jabal Dukhan mountain repelled the attack by Yemeni Republican Guard troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, killing about 25 and wounding 30.
In the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a Houthi official said the clash resulted in the Houthi capture of the mountain as well as a place called Al Romaih. The commander of a Saudi rapid intervention force was killed in the fighting, he added.