Yemen's warring parties agree on initial redeployment: U.N

A mountain of land mines that Yemeni soldiers said they collected over the past two months in Al Haifa Yemen Jan. 21 2019. Hundreds of thousands of land mines have stymied the Saudi-led forces in Yemen and could pose a danger to civilians for decades

The UN- and Saudi-backed Yemeni government has struck a deal with Houthi rebels to "redeploy" troops from the Red City port of Hodeidah, the main entry point for humanitarian aid and commercial goods to Yemen, the UN spokesman's office announced on Sunday.

Under Phase 1, the Houthis would withdraw from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef, used for grains, and Ras Isa, used for oil.

The redeployment from Hodeidah was a key provision of a ceasefire deal reached in December in Sweden, but deadlines to move forces away from the ports and parts of the city have been missed.

The statement said both sides "made important progress on planning for the redeployment of forces as envisaged in the Hodeida agreement".

The Hodeidah truce has largely been respected but skirmishes continue.

"The next RCC is expected to convene within a week with the aim to finalize an agreement on Phase 2", the statement says.

The talks on Saturday and Sunday were the fourth meeting held between the sides to try to agree on the modalities of the pullback of forces since the ceasefire came into force on December 18.

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The fighting in the Arab world's poorest country has taken a bad toll on civilians, with thousands killed and a catastrophic humanitarian crisis underway.

He said that "the Houthis did not implement the previous agreement and this new plan will only provide the rebels with sufficient time to transfer their weapons, strengthen their positions, mobilize their forces and plant more landmines in the city's farms".

The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request since March 2015.

Hodeidah is a key port city and home to the Red Sea Mills, housing enough grain to feed millions of people for a month, but presently inaccessible to aid workers, the United Nations said.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as an Iranian proxy, Saudi Arabia and eight other Arab states intervened in an attempt to restore the government.

Echoing other aid groups, the United Nations warned that an all-out battle for the port could escalate what has already been dubbed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, choking off the delivery of urgently needed assistance and triggering a starvation that would imperil millions of lives.

United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths meanwhile departed from Sanaa on Monday, a day after meeting with rebel leader Abdul-Malek Al Houthi to discuss the "complex situation" in and around Hodeidah.

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