UN envoy eyes 72-hour truce for Yemen

A 72-hour truce for conflict-riddled Yemen is expected to be announced soon, UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said

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A 72-hour truce for conflict-riddled Yemen is expected to be announced soon, the UN envoy to the Arabian Peninsula country said Friday after talks with rebel representatives.

Three months of negotiations in Kuwait earlier this year ended without a breakthrough, dashing hopes for an end to the war between Shiite Houthi rebels and government forces that has gripped Yemen for more than 18 months.

Fighting flared anew when the talks collapsed in August, prompting UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to warn that restoring a ceasefire for Yemen was critical.

Speaking in the Omani capital on Friday after talks with representatives of the Houthis, the Mauritanian diplomat said a new truce deal was in the works as part of a wider peace plan.

"An agreement for a 72-hour renewable truce will be announced in the coming days," he said in remarks carried by the official Oman news agency.

The Houthis and their allies, supporters of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, "are convinced of the need for a ceasefire," the diplomat said.

He said he would head to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to meet with Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The UN envoy said he was hoping to draft a new peace plan for Yemen "in the next two weeks" but that he first needed to carry out more consultations.

The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 6,700 people and displaced at least three million since a Saudi-led Arab coalition backing Hadi's government launched operations in March 2015.

Since then, the rebels have been pushed out of much of Yemen's south, but they still control nearly all of its Red Sea coast as well as swathes of territory around the capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition has stepped up its air raids following the breakdown of talks and cross-border attacks from Yemen have also intensified.

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