Iran repatriating envoy to Yemen who has COVID-19

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DUBAI, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Iran is evacuating its envoy to Yemen's rebel Houthi movement after he contracted COVID-19, Iran's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, and a Houthi spokesman said Saudi Arabia and Iraq helped in the transfer of envoy Hasan Irlu.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, the region's Sunni Muslim and Shi'ite powerhouses, launched direct talks this year at a time when global powers are trying to salvage a nuclear pact with Tehran and as U.N.-led efforts to end the Yemen war stall. read more

"In order to transfer him (Irlu) to our country for treatment, the Foreign Ministry conducted consultations with some regional countries to prepare for his transfer, which is currently under way," ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told state media.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said on Twitter: "Under an Iranian-Saudi agreement reached through contacts with Iraq, the Iranian ambassador in Sanaa was transferred on an Iraqi plane due to his health condition."

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis after the movement ousted the internationally recognised government from Sanaa, the capital. The coalition has imposed a sea and air blockade on areas the group controls.

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Reporting by Dubai newsroom; additional reporting by Yasmin Hussein in Cairo; Editing by Leslie Adler

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