BFF-47 UAE says ready to back efforts for peaceful Yemen rebel pullout

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YEMEN-CONFLICT-HODEIDA-UAE

UAE says ready to back efforts for peaceful Yemen rebel pullout

ABU DHABI, June 23, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The United Arab Emirates, whose
troops have played a major role in a Yemeni government offensive against the
port city of Hodeida, said Saturday that it was ready to support diplomatic
efforts to secure a rebel withdrawal.

But it said the pullout must be unconditional and from the whole city not
just its vital docks, the entry point for three-quarters of Yemen’s imports.

“The coalition will achieve its goal, which is to free the city, including
the port,” UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, tweeted,
referring to a Saudi-led coalition which intervened in support of the Yemeni
government in 2015.

“In the meantime, it will support all efforts to secure a peaceful and
unconditional withdrawal by the rebels,” he added.

UAE-backed government forces launched their offensive against Hodeida on
June 13 and on Wednesday overran its disused airport after deadly fighting
with the rebel garrison.

On Saturday, the airport continued to come under mortar fire from adjacent
rebel-held neighbourhoods in the south of the city. Government forces
responded against the source of the fire.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths, who held abortive talks in the rebel-held
capital Sanaa last weekend, was continuing “consultations with all sides to
avoid a military confrontation in Hodeida and return rapidly to the
negotiating table,” his office said.

The rebels have said they are willing to share control of Hodeida’s port
with the United Nations but have vowed that their forces will remain in the
docks and in the rest of the Red Sea city.

The coalition alleges that the port has been used by the rebels as an entry
point for weapons smuggled from its arch-foe Iran.

BSS/AFP/MRI/1835 HRS