Saudi Arabia has proposed a temporary ceasefire in Yemen to allow the delivery of aid to civilians in urgent need. The announcement came during a visit to Riyadh by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry's Saudi counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir told reporters at a joint press conference in Riyadh on Thursday that the United States welcomed the initiative, which would see a Saudi-led coalition halt its air campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The ceasefire is conditional on the Houthis and their rebels also laying down their arms for the five -day period, something both al-Jubeir and Kerry urged them to do. There was no immediate indication from the Houthis whether they would implement the temporary ceasefire.
It also wasn't immediately clear when the truce might start, but Kerry said the "humanitarian pause" would not come into force for at least several days, as some time was needed to try to convince the Houthis to accept the terms of the ceasefire. He also said aid agencies needed time to plot strategy for delivering food, medicine and other aid to civilians who are in desperate need.
The announcement came after Kerry had also met with Saudi King Salman and other high-ranked officials in the kingdom.
Kerry also met with Yemen's internationally recognized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled Yemen back in March as the rebels closed in on his stronghold in the southern port of Aden.
"Hopefully we'll see you in Sanaa soon," Hadi told Kerry, who in his reply noted that "there's some work to do."
Saudi Arabia and a coalition of other Arab states launched their air campaign against the rebels, who are widely understood to be supported by Iran in late March. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in air strikes and fighting on the ground since then.
Among the allies of the Houthis are supporters of Yemen's former longtime president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
pfd/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP)