ALGIERS – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Thursday, after peace talks on Yemen in Sweden, a "cease-fire" in the port city of Hodeida (west) through which most of the aid in this country.
The agreement provides for the withdrawal of government forces and elements of the Ansarallah (Houthi) conflict movement from the Houthi-controlled city and port.
This withdrawal will occur "in the coming days," said the UN Secretary General's special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths.
The UN will play a "key role" in the control of the port, Antonio Guterres said during a solemn ceremony attended by representatives of the Yemeni government and the Houthis.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yemeni and Houthi representative Mohammed Abdelsalam exchanged a handshake of symbolic significance after the ceremony.
al-Yemeni warned shortly after the agreement on Hodeida's withdrawal remained "hypothetical" until it was implemented.
The city of Taiz, ravaged by the fighting, must also be relieved for the purpose of opening humanitarian corridors. On the other hand, no agreement was announced either on the recovery of the Yemeni economy, in tatters, or on the reopening of the airport of the capital Sanaa.
Under the control of the Houthis and closed for three years, the airport is de facto the subject of a blockade by the military coalition (under Saudi command) intervening in Yemen in support of the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Negotiations between the protagonists of the crisis stumble in particular on the transit of planes by other cities of the country before their landing in Sanaa. The Yemeni government demands that they be searched to prevent the illegal importation of weapons. UN mediators, who harbored only limited hope for a breakthrough in Sweden, said the two sides would meet again in late January.
Secretary-General and Special Envoy Martin Griffiths seek durable agreement after four years of war that has left about 10,000 dead and threatened up to 20 million people with famine, according to the UN. The outcome of these talks will be presented Friday to the Security Council in New York.
== The international community in the expectation of a definitive agreement ==
UN mediators said the two sides were due to meet again in late January to try to define a negotiating framework for a political settlement. In the meantime, these agreements will "improve the lives of millions of Yemenis," said Antonio Guterres.
A "ceasefire" must come into effect "in the coming days" in Hodeida (west), port of the Red Sea, where most of the aid in this country UN "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world".
Government forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi elements must withdraw from the city and port. This one is controlled by the insurgents and undergoes the offensives of the coalition.
"The international community will continue to make Yemen a priority," said Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, while his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt traveled to Sweden where he met with the warring parties.
Also present were ambassadors from Saudi Arabia and Western countries accredited to Yemen (France, United Kingdom, United States).
For the International Crisis Group (ICG), these consultations "produced more results than anyone could hope for".
The next consultations should help define a negotiating framework for a political process, a prelude to a settlement of the conflict.