Yemen: UK foreign minister sees Hodeidah ceasefire holding

Jeremy Hunt warned the “positive steps” taken in Stockholm could be reversed

People ride motorbikes near the al-Shaab (People's) Park in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, Yemen December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad
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Britain’s foreign minister described the ceasefire in the Yemeni city of Hodeidah as “highly fragile” on Wednesday urging the warring sides to come to a political solution to end the conflict.

Jeremy Hunt met representatives from both the Houthi delegation and the internationally recognised Yemeni government during peace talks in Stockholm last week when the truce was agreed.

Mr Hunt said Britain’s part in the ceasefire agreement was brought about through its diplomatic connections with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who lead the Arab coalition fighting alongside the Yemeni forces.

“Britain has been able to play this role because of our network of friendships, including our partnership with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and because we are a country that steps up to its responsibilities.

The United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths, who mediated the talks, said the ceasefire in the Red Sea port appeared to be working on Tuesday, despite reports of clashes minutes after the deal was due to come into effect.

Updating parliament on Yemen, Mr Hunt said encouragement could be drawn from recent events but that “the positive steps could be reversed”.


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“Many complex and difficult problems have yet to be addressed, let alone resolved,” he said. “The people of Yemen still carry an immense burden of suffering.”

The war, which began in 2015, has led to a humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest country, with 75 per cent of the population reliant on aid.

Hodeidah is a strategically important city in the conflict and a vital gateway to getting essential goods to the population.

The port city, which was taken by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels at the beginning of the conflict, has been the site of intense fighting since June.