Oman hopes ceasefire in Yemen is agreed 'very soon' - ONA

DUBAI (Reuters) - Oman, a mediator in ceasefire talks between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Houthi group, said on Tuesday it hoped an agreement between the warring parties would be reached “very soon”.

FILE PHOTO: Houthi soldiers march during a funeral procession for Houthi fighters killed in recent fighting against government forces in Marib province, in Sanaa, Yemen February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah/File Photo

Yemen’s six-year-old conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, and pushed the country to the verge of starvation.

Muscat has been working closely with Riyadh, Washington and the United Nations to reach a comprehensive political solution to the crisis.

“The sultanate hopes that these contacts will achieve the desired result very soon, in order to restore security and stability to brotherly Yemen and preserve the security and interests of the countries in the region,” a statement carried by the Omani state news agency ONA said.

Some Houthi officials, including the group’s chief negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam, have lived in Muscat since regional powers joined Yemen’s civil war in 2015.

Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition that has been fighting the Houthis, offered a ceasefire proposal last week but the Iran-aligned Houthi group said it would only agree to it if an air and sea blockade were lifted.

Despite the offer, the Houthis have continued their drone and missile strikes against Saudi Arabia as well as a ground offensive on the gas-producing region of Marib.

The coalition said on Tuesday it destroyed two drones launched by the Houthis towards Saudi Arabia, Saudi state TV reported.

On Friday, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said the group had attacked facilities of state oil giant Saudi Aramco in Ras al-Tanura, Rabigh, Yanbu and Jazan.

The attacks took place during the latest visit of U.S. Special Envoy Tim Lenderking and U.N. mediator Martin Griffiths to Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, Editing by William Maclean