Yemen Huthi rebels in Saudi Arabia for \'talks about border truce\'

Friday 04/03/2016
Iran’s support is waning

RIYADH - Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen have sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia to discuss a truce along the border between the two countries, sources close to the negotiators said Tuesday.

The frontier between war-ravaged Yemen and its northern neighbour, which is leading an Arab coalition attacking the rebels from the air and on the ground, has itself seen many deadly incidents in the past year.

"A Huthi delegation is in southern Saudi Arabia for talks about a ceasefire on the border," said one of the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.

More than 90 people -- both military and civilian -- have been killed on the Saudi side of the border by fire from Yemen during the conflict.

Northern Yemen is controlled by the rebels, who have been the target of the Saudi-led campaign since March 26 last year.

"The talks are only about a border truce, and are unrelated to the bombardment of areas held by the Huthi militants," another source said.

"Official Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam and military figures are in the rebel delegation," the same source said, without revealing any more details about the secret talks.

It is not known when the reported talks began, any mediator involved or the level of Saudi participation.

A Huthi official refused to confirm or deny that talks with Saudi Arabia were taking place.

"No comment," the official said from the rebel bastion of Saada in north Yemen.

Such talks would be unprecedented since the beginning of military operations in Saudi Arabia, coming as the United Nations tries to revive inter-Yemeni peace talks that broke down after a first session in Switzerland in December.