United Nations to hold Yemen talks on port revenues

Yemen warring parties hold fresh talks as Houthis withdraw from Hodeidah

Yemen warring parties hold fresh talks as Houthis withdraw from Hodeidah

The Saudi-led coalition, backed by the USA, started the war on Yemen in March 2015 with the aim of reinstating ousted president Mansour Hadi.

Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, the head of a United Nations mission overseeing the ceasefire in the Yemeni city of Hodeidah, announced that the first day of the withdrawal of Houthi militias from three ports went "in accordance with established plans", adding that monitors will verify the pullout on Tuesday.

Sadek Dawad, a government negotiator, said he welcomed the "first step of the first phase of redeployment" of rebel forces in the area.

Back in September 2016, Hadi ordered a decree to unilaterally relocate the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) from Houthi-held capital Sana'a to Aden, a southern port that now serves as the so-called temporary "capital" of Yemen and the base for Hadi's government.

Hodeida port is the main entry point for the bulk of Yemen's imports and humanitarian aid, serving as a lifeline to millions of civilians pushed to the brink of starvation by more than four years of war.

The blockade deprived two-thirds of the population, which is suffering its third major outbreak of cholera since the conflict began, from aid and vital supplies. "We appear to be approaching implementation of the mutual redeployment of forces - a key step to ending this brutal war", he tweeted. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak with the media.

Lollesgaard said Friday that the Houthis' withdrawal from the three ports marked the first practical step toward realizing the cease-fire.

The source added that the discussions might take a long time as the Houthis have strict viewpoints. He urged parties to finalise negotiations for a full implementation of the next stages of the Hodeidah deal.

Yemen's Houthi movement forces are seen during withdrawal from Saleef port in Hodeidah province, Yemen May 11, 2019.

The pullout was scheduled to take place two weeks after the cease-fire went into force on December 18.

Despite the ongoing withdrawal from Hodeidah, fighting has continued elsewhere in Yemen.

The agreement in Sweden also included a prisoner exchange between the two sides, which has yet to be carried out.

He also said the recent bombing of a warehouse belonging to the Houthi militias in Sana'a by the coalition, which left 10 children dead and injured 100 others, was the "result of an explosion of flammable materials stockpiled by the Houthi militias".

Leading a coalition of its allies, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Hadi, who had resigned amid popular discontent and fled to Riyadh, and to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been significantly helping the Yemeni army against a Saudi-led military coalition for the past four years.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition didn't respond to calls seeking comment.