UPDATE 1-Houthi official tells Iran to stay out of Yemen crisis

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CAIRO/DUBAI, March 9 (Reuters) - A senior Houthi official told Iranian officials on Wednesday to stay out of Yemen’s conflict, after an Iranian general said Tehran might send military advisers to help Houthi forces fighting a Gulf Arab coalition.

The Houthis usually see Shi’ite Iran as a friendly power in their year-old war against the Saudi-led Arab coalition, which is trying to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.

“Officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran must be silent and leave aside the exploitation of the Yemen file,” the official, Yousef al-Feshi, a member of the Houthis’ Revolutionary Committee, said in a posting on Facebook.

It was the first public remark from a senior official in the Houthi group, seen to be very close to Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, to be directed at Iranian officials.

On Tuesday, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, suggested in an interview with the Tasnim news agency that Iran might support the Houthis in a similar way it has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria.

Feshi’s posting coincided with a visit by a Houthi delegation to Saudi Arabia, a move that could signal an attempt to end a year of fighting that has killed some 6,000 people.

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had exchanged a Saudi officer for seven Yemeni prisoners with its Houthi enemies and confirmed that a calm along their common border was holding. (Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by William Maclean and Louise Ireland)