After more than eight years of deadly fighting, Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Houthi militia have engaged in direct discussions aimed at establishing a truce in the war-torn country, according to a government official.
According to the official, the ongoing dialogue between Saudi authorities and the Houthi is the first in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, which is controlled by the Iran-backed militia.
He stated that the negotiations have given him hope that a settlement to the situation in Yemen is possible.
The official expressed optimism that the discussions would provide a satisfactory result, stating that “local fighting groups and Saudi Arabia had originally agreed to extend the expiring six-month truce to a year.”
He said that an official cease-fire statement is likely within the next three days.
Yemeni officials said on Saturday that a combined Saudi and Omani team had arrived in Sanaa to conduct ceasefire negotiations with militia commanders.
Yet, neither Riyadh nor the Houthis have provided public confirmation of the nature of the talks thus far.
According to a diplomat, Yemeni government officials met on April 7 in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh to negotiate a comprehensive three-year peace plan to end the country’s civil conflict.
He added that the proposed plan, which is based on months of back-channel conversations between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi militia in Muscat, comprises three major stages that would be executed over a three-year period.
Previous rounds of discussions between the Yemeni government, Saudi Arabia, and the Houthi party were mediated by Oman and the UN.
Oman’s involvement in encouraging discussions and preserving good relations with both parties has been critical.
The United Nations has been attempting to mediate a political solution to the conflict, but earlier attempts have failed owing to a lack of trust between the warring groups and ongoing bloodshed on the ground.
Since 2014, Yemen has been immersed in a deadly civil conflict, with the Houthis battling against the internationally recognised government.
In 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen to help the Yemeni government.