Yemen Foreign Minister: President Hadi agrees to 72-hour ceasefire

Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi has agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire which could be extended if the Houthi rebels reciprocate, Foreign Minister Abdul-Malik al-Mekhlafi wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The development comes just over a week after a Saudi-led alliance backing Hadi bombed a funeral hall in the rebel-held capital Sana'a, killing some 140 people including prominent political figures.

The airstrike, which the alliance blamed on mistaken information from Hadi loyalists, drew international condemnation and led to pressure for a ceasefire from the United States and Britain, key backers of the Saudi-led air campaign.

There was no immediate response from the Houthi rebels, who control much of northern Yemen in alliance with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his loyalists in the army.

The Yemeni conflict intensified in March last year when the Houthis and their allies marched on Hadi's last strongholds in southern Yemen, prompting Saudi Arabia to launch an air campaign in support of the internationally recognized president.

The UN has been calling for a halt to the airstrikes since September last year, saying they are responsible for the majority of civilian casualties in the conflict.

Riyadh fears that the mainly Shiite Houthis will give its regional rival, Shiite Iran, a foothold on the Arabian peninsula.

The conflict has had a devastating effect on Yemen, already one of the Arab world's poorest countries, leaving millions reliant on aid for access to food, clean water and medical care.

Last update: Tue, 18/10/2016 - 02:18

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