Houthi delegation meets Iraq’s foreign minister

A Houthi delegation arrived in Baghdad to discuss the possibility of recognition to the recently-established political council

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Iraq’s foreign ministry said a delegation of Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis arrived on Monday in Baghdad to discuss the possibility of recognition to the recently-established political council, the ministry said on its website.

The delegation - headed by the Houthis’ spokesman, Mohammed Abdelsalam - seeks recognition of the political council formed earlier this month by the Houthis and the General People’s Congress party, the political party of ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The council consists of 10 members, five affiliated with the Houthi and five with the General People’s Congress.

The visit, expected to last several days, will hold meetings with the Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. It also comes a day after Jaafari called on his Saudi counterpart to replace its ambassador Thamer al- Sabhan in Baghdad in reaction to comments the latter made about Iran’s involvement in Iraq.

New plan

The Houthi tour comes after US Secretary of State John Kerry said that there is a “new plan” aimed at ending conflict in Yemen which will see participation of the Iran-backed Houthi militia group in a unity government.

Kerry spoke to reporters on Thursday during a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart in Riyadh, dubbing the plan as having a “fair and sensible approach.”

The plan includes the forming of a national unity government with Houthi participation in exchange for ending violence, laying down of arms and transferring of heavy weapons to a third party.

Yemen's Houthi-run governing council said on Sunday it was ready to restart peace talks with the country's exiled government backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition provided the coalition stopped attacking Houthi-held territories.

United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was expected to meet with the exiled Yemeni government’s delegation as well as the Houthi-Saleh delegation during the next two days in order to discuss Kerry's plan and prepare for the next round of negotiations scheduled to begin on September 6.

A Houthi delegation headed by the group's political bureau member Mohammed al-Qabli had previously visited Iraq in May last year and met with the then-Iraqi vice president Nouri al-Maliki.

The source added that plenty of funds - in local and foreign currencies - have been withdrawn from the bank under the excuse of “war efforts.”

In early 2015, the Houthis attempted a coup and forced Yemeni President Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi into exile.

With their allied forces belonging to deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Houthis continue to control the capital.

The fighting during which more than 6,400 people have been killed - half of them civilians - has created a humanitarian crisis in one of the poorest countries in the Middle East.

(With Reuters)

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