Representatives of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement and members of a meditation team from Oman have left for Riyadh to negotiate a permanent ceasefire with Saudi officials, news agencies say.
“The Omani plane took off towards Riyadh carrying the Houthi [Ansarullah] delegation,” French news agency AFP reported, citing an aviation official in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Thursday.
The talks between Saudi officials and Ansarullah envoys will reportedly focus on a full reopening of Yemeni ports and Sana’a International Airport, payment of wages for public servants from oil revenues, reconstruction efforts, and a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Yemen.
Ali al-Qahoum, a member of Ansarullah’s political bureau, said the Omani delegation and representatives from the National Salvation Government will try to complete the previous rounds of ceasefire talks. He expressed his optimism over mediation efforts, and Oman’s efforts to restore peace and stability in Yemen.
Oman, which borders Yemen, has been trying for years to bridge differences between the warring parties.
The first round of the Oman-mediated consultations between Riyadh and Sana’a, which are running in parallel to UN peace efforts, was held in April when Saudi envoys visited the Yemeni capital.
The peace initiatives have gained momentum since Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to resume diplomatic ties back in March following a Chinese-brokered deal after a seven-year estrangement.
Saudi Arabia launched the war against Yemen in March 2015, enlisting the assistance of some of its regional allies, including the United Arab Emirates, as well as massive shipments of advanced weaponry from the US and Western Europe.
The Western governments further extended their political and logistical support to Riyadh in their failed bid to restore power in Yemen to the country’s former Saudi-installed government.
The former Yemeni government’s president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, resigned from the presidency in late 2014 and later fled to Riyadh amid a political conflict with Ansarullah. The movement has been running Yemen’s affairs in the absence of a functioning administration.
The war further led to the killing of tens of thousands of Yemenis and turned the entire nation into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.