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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Yemen - Ali Rabih

Sanaa Meetings Continue, Prisoner Swap to Begin Friday

The Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al-Jaber, shakes hands with the head of the Houthi governing council, Mehdi Al-Mashat, in Sanaa (AP)

Yemeni government officials have delayed the agreed-upon prisoner exchange deal to Friday from Thursday, as Saudi and Omani efforts continue in Sanaa to encourage Houthi leaders to implement an intra-Yemeni peace plan.

The plan seeks to establish a ceasefire, renew and expand humanitarian truce, and ultimately lead to a negotiating track to end the conflict.

The Consultations and Reconciliation Commission, which supports the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), has welcomed Saudi-led mediation efforts in Sanaa to promote peace and reach a final solution to the Yemeni crisis.

The efforts are led by Saudi Ambassador Mohammed Al-Jaber, who arrived in the Houthi-held Yemeni capital last Sunday with an Omani delegation.

Yemeni analysts who spoke with Asharq Al-Awsat have stated that Riyadh has gained the trust of various Yemeni factions, including the Houthis who received the Saudi ambassador.

Differences now revolve around “narratives” instead of violence, and this slight progress in the Yemeni scene is a positive alternative to the sound of gunfire.

Political sources in Sanaa, who spoke with Asharq Al-Awsat, stated that ongoing efforts and discussions with Houthi leaders are promising an imminent breakthrough in the Yemeni file.

Yemenis are hopeful that the coming days will bring a new turning point towards peace, following the roadmap presented by the Saudi and Omani delegations, sources revealed.

Houthi leaders usually wait for the green light and final approval from their leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, before agreeing to any proposals presented by UN or regional mediators.

The PLC, headed by Rashad Al-Alimi, gathered in Riyadh to discuss the proposed peace plan. According to Yemeni sources, the PLC provided feedback on the proposals.

In the meantime, the US State Department announced that Tim Lenderking, the Special Envoy for Yemen, left for the Arab Gulf region to aid efforts to reach a new agreement on a comprehensive peace process.

“After over a year of intensive US and UN diplomatic efforts and support from regional partners like Saudi Arabia and Oman, Yemen is witnessing an unprecedented opportunity for peace,” said the State Department in a statement.

The UN-mediated truce, which began in April 2022, laid the foundation for renewed peace efforts while delivering tangible benefits to the Yemeni people.

“Moving forward, only the Yemeni parties can bring lasting peace and shape a brighter future for their country, which is why a Yemeni-Yemeni political process is urgently needed,” added the statement.

During his visit, Lenderking will meet with Yemeni, Saudi, and international partners to discuss the necessary steps to secure a durable ceasefire and inclusive, UN-mediated political process, while ensuring continued efforts to ease the economic crisis and suffering of Yemenis.

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