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Yemen to begin week-long ceasefire on December 15

Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has said he intends to implement a temporary truce for seven days beginning December 15. The ceasefire will coincide with UN-sponsored peace talks.

"I informed the coalition's leadership that we intend to start a ceasefire for seven days, from December 15 to 21, in conjunction with the consultations,"

President Hadi

said in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The truce would be automatically renewed if the other side complied, he added.

Hadi also said he hoped Shiite Houthi rebels would respect the truce, failing which the coalition would be "forced to deal with any violation of the ceasefire."

The Yemeni president's remarks came shortly after a statement by the

UN's special envoy to Yemen

, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who said that the talks between Yemen's government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels would begin on December 15. Ahmed said there were a "number of good signs" that indicated that the ceasefire would be respected.

Talks to end suffering of Yemeni people

"Only a political solution will end the crisis in Yemen ... We strongly believe that the only way to end the suffering of the Yemeni people and to rebuild confidence, trust and mutual respect is through peaceful and inclusive dialogue," Ahmed said, adding that only Yemenis would be present for the talks.

The UN's deputy spokesman in New York, Farhan Haq, also said the talks would alleviate the current humanitarian crisis and put Yemen on the path of a "peaceful and orderly transition."

Yemen has been embroiled in civil war since the Houthis took over the capital Sanaa last year. Forces loyal to President Hadi have been accompanied by a Saudi-led coalition of warplanes and ground forces to defeat the Houthis. More than 5,700 people died after the conflict escalated in March this year. Several thousand are affected by lack of food and medical supplies, the UN says.

mg/jr (AP, Reuters)

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