Yemen’s warring sides have agreed on a “mechanism and new measures to reinforce the ceasefire and de-escalation” around the flashpoint port of Hodeidah, as well as technical aspects of a troop pullback, the United Nations said on Monday.
Representatives of the Yemeni government and Houthi militia were picked up at different locations by a UN ship and held talks in the Red Sea off Yemen, the first such meeting since February, a UN statement said.
The agreement came as the UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said he held a “productive meeting” with Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister Prince Khalid bin Salman on Monday in Jeddah.
Tweeting about the meeting, Griffiths said he discussed with Prince Khalid how to keep Yemen out of ongoing regional tensions and how to make progress in the implementation of the Stockholm agreement with the support of the Kingdom.
Also Monday, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend its ceasefire observation mission in Hodeidah by six months, until Jan. 15, 2020.
It also called on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to deploy a full contingent of observers “expeditiously” in the mission, which is mandated to have 75 staff but currently only has 20 on the ground.
The text adopted Monday stressed that the UN mission should “monitor the compliance of the parties to the ceasefire in Hodeida governorate and the mutual redeployment of forces from the city of Hodeida and the ports of Hodeida, Salif and Ras Issa.”
The monitors should work with the parties so that the security of the area “is assured by local security forces in accordance with Yemeni law.”
It also called on all parties involved in the Hodeida Agreement to support UN efforts by ensuring the safety of the monitors and affording all personnel and supplies swift and unfettered movement.
Under the agreement made in Stockholm at the end of 2018, all warring factions were supposed to have withdrawn their troops from the strategic port city in western Yemen.
Last month, Houthi militants balked at providing visas for UN observers stationed off the coast on board a UN vessel.