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Government agrees to UN Hodeidah plan


Yemen’s government said on Saturday it agreed to a two-point plan advanced by the United Nations to ease suffering in the country’s civil war, but Ansar Allah movement remained sceptical as a US drone strike killed two suspected Al Qaeda militants rebels in southern Yemen late on Friday sources said.

On Thursday the UN Security Council urged the warring parties to agree on a UN-brokered plan to keep the Ansar Allah-held port of Hodeidah out of the fighting and to resume government salary payments.

The UN has proposed that Hodeidah, a vital aid delivery point on the Red Sea where some 80 per cent of Yemen’s food imports arrive, should be turned over to a neutral party. The UN Security Council warned the Arab coalition, that is fighting the Ansar Allah, against any attempt to extend the war to the port.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel Malek Al Mekhlafi said in a tweet his government renewed its acceptance of the proposals first made by UN Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in May.

But a spokesperson for the Ansar Allah said the Security Council through its statements was encouraging the alliance to resume its strikes and that they reserved the right to respond to any aggression.

“We reaffirm that the army and local committees have all the right and legality to respond to the alliance,” a statement by spokesperson Mohammed Abdelsalam said.

Yemen has been torn apart by more than two years of civil war that pits the Houthi group against the government of President Abd Rabhu Mansour Hadi, which is backed by the alliance. More than 10,000 people have died in the conflict and hunger is widespread.

The coalition has accused the Ansar Allah of using Hodeidah to smuggle in weapons and ammunition and has called for UN monitors to be posted there. The Ansar Allah movement denies the allegations.

UN Yemen envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed had told the Security Council on May 30 that he had proposed a deal to avoid military clashes in Hodeidah to be negotiated in parallel with an agreement to resume civil service salary payments nationally.

However, he noted the Ansar Allah and the allied General People’s Congress, the party of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, would not meet him.

The US drone strike took place in Al Naqba area of Shabwa province where residents heard a loud explosion that they say completely destroyed a vehicle carrying armed people.

Shabwa is one of several provinces in Yemen where al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is active.