Coalition prefers final Yemen settlement to 'short' truce

AFP , Monday 26 Sep 2016

A general view of the Old City of Sanaa, Yemen, September 25, 2016 (Photo: Reuters)

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in support of Yemen's government would prefer a broad political settlement to a ceasefire, its spokesman said on Monday.

"I think now it's not a question of talking about a ceasefire," Brigadier General Ahmed Assiri told AFP.

Late on Sunday a Huthi rebel leader, Saleh al-Sammad, proposed a truce on the country's border with Saudi Arabia in exchange for a halt in Saudi-led air strikes on his forces.

Assiri said the coalition welcomes "any effort to have a genuine political settlement" under a peace initiative proposed last month by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

This is preferable to a "short ceasefire without any control, without any observation", he said.

Previous truces in the 18-month war collapsed.

After talks in Saudi Arabia with his Gulf counterparts, Kerry outlined a plan which offers the Huthis participation in government in exchange for an end to violence and a surrender of weapons.

The Huthis are allied with soldiers loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"If they want to have a ceasefire they know what they have to do," Assiri said, referring to terms of the Kerry plan which were to be refined under United Nations mediation among the parties.

The plan calls for a rebel withdrawal from seized areas including the capital Sanaa which they have held since late 2014.

The United States and Saudi Arabia say Iran, Riyadh's regional rival, has supplied missiles and other weapons to the Huthis.

The coalition intervened in March last year after the rebels overran much of the country.

Riyadh faces mounting international scrutiny over civilian casualties in its Yemen air campaign.

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