Yemeni gov’t slams Houthi offer to unilaterally withdraw from Hodeidah ports

Yemeni gov’t slams Houthi offer to unilaterally withdraw from Hodeidah ports

ADEN, Yemen, (Rahnuma):  Yemen’s internationally-recognized government on Saturday described Houthi agreement to withdraw their forces from Hodeidah’s three key ports under a United Nations-brokered peace deal as “an inaccurate and misleading offer.”

The government’s reaction, which was revealed in an official statement delivered by Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Iryani, came just hours after Houthis announced that they are ready to unilaterally redeploy from the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa over four days.

Iryani said that the Houthi offer was “a reproduction for their previous farce when they tried handing over the management of Hodeidah’s port to their affiliates.”

He said that his government rejects any unilateral withdrawal of the rebel forces from Hodeidah without allowing for a joint monitoring and verification of implementing the Stockholm Agreement.

“We welcome any serious step towards real implementation of the Stockholm Agreement but such elusive attempts are unacceptable,” the Yemeni minister added.

He warned that the Houthi announcement aimed at misleading the international community just days before convening the next session of the UN Security Council and to avoid any firm international stance.

On Friday, UN declared that Yemen’s Houthi rebels agreed to unilaterally redeploy forces out of the three key ports in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah within four days beginning from Saturday.

The UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement “will monitor and report on this unilateral redeployment,” Michael Lollesgaard, head of the team of UN observers and monitors, said in a UN statement.

The Iran-allied Houthi rebels control the city while the Saudi-backed government troops have advanced to its southeastern outskirts.

Hodeidah is the key lifeline entry point for Yemen’s most food imports and humanitarian aid. The four-year grinding war has pushed over 20 million people to the verge of starvation.

Yemeni warring parties reached a peace deal on Hodeidah in December last year as the first step toward a comprehensive political solution.

Sporadic breaches, however, are daily recorded in Hodeidah as the two sides failed to withdraw their forces in accordance with the agreement reached in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.

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