RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday proposed a five-day humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen to allow aid deliveries, and the United States called on ‘Iran-backed’ Houthi rebels to accept the offer.
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, whose country is leading a coalition conducting air strikes on the Yemen rebels, announced the proposal after talks with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Jubeir said he had informed his American counterpart of “the kingdom´s idea of a five-day ceasefire in Yemen to coordinate with international organisations to deliver aid to Yemen if the Houthis and their allies commit to this and do not carry out acts of aggression”.
The date for its start “will soon be set,” he added.
Kerry said he agreed that “this ceasefire is conditioned on Houthis”.
“We strongly urge the Houthis and those (who) back them… to use all their influence not to miss this major opportunity to address the needs of the Yemeni people and find a peaceful way forward,” Kerry told reporters in Riyadh.
Iran is accused of supporting Houthi rebels, who are also backed by army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Weeks of coalition air strikes have prompted growing concerns over increasing civilian deaths and a mounting humanitarian crisis.
“The United States remains deeply concerned about the situation on the ground in Yemen and we fully support efforts to facilitate the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid,” said Kerry.
The top US diplomat also said that “neither Saudi Arabia nor the US are talking to each other about sending ground troops into Yemen,” despite calls by the war-torn country´s government for foreign intervention by land.