Saudi Arabia, UAE discuss military cooperation after 'positive' Houthi truce offer
Saudi's deputy defence minister Prince Khalid bin Salman met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in the UAE capital to discuss "coordination and joint action in defence and military affairs", Emirati state news agency WAM reported on Monday.
The two officials, who spoke late on Sunday, also discussed the "challenges" facing the Gulf region and "their implications on the security" of the region, WAM said.
Last week, Prince Khalid said on Twitter that a truce offer made last month by Yemen's Houthi rebels was "perceived positively" by the kingdom and hoped it would be "implemented effectively".
Since 2015, Riyadh has led a military coalition in support of Yemen's internationally recognised government against the Iran-backed Houthis.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, according to humanitarian organisations, and left Yemen faced with what the UN terms the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
|Translation: The truce announced from Yemen is viewed positively by the Kingdom, as this is what it always seeks, and hopes that it will be implemented effectively as confirmed by His Highness the Crown Prince.|
The Houthis offered to halt all attacks on Saudi Arabia as part of a peace initiative to end the devastating conflict, later repeating their proposal despite continued airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition.
The offer came after the Houthis claimed responsibility for attacks on September 14 against two key Saudi oil installations that temporarily knocked out half of the OPEC giant's production.
Riyadh and Washington, however, blamed Iran for the attacks - a charge denied by Tehran.
The latest developments also came after the rebels freed 290 prisoners, including dozens of survivors from a Saudi-led coalition strike on a detention centre earlier this month, the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed last week.
The ICRC hailed the move as "a positive step that will hopefully revive the release, transfer and repatriation of conflict-related detainees" under a deal struck last year between the rebels and Yemen's government.
The United Nations' special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomed the initiative to "unilaterally release detainees".
"I hope this step will lead to further initiatives that will facilitate the exchange of all the conflict-related detainees as per the Stockholm Agreement" Griffiths said, referring to the 2018 accord.
He called on all parties to work together to speed prisoner releases, saying they and their families had "endured profound pain and suffering."
In a statement, he urged the parties to meet at the "nearest opportunity" to resume the discussions on future exchanges.
The fighting in Yemen has displaced millions and left more than two-thirds of the population in need of aid.
The United Nations has described Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
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