Rimbo (Sweden), Dec 7 (AFP) Yemen's Huthi rebels will not hand over the key port of Hodeida to the rival government, a rebel representative said Friday, as the two parties met for UN-brokered talks in Sweden.
The Iran-backed rebels, locked in a war with the President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and his allies in a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, control the Red Sea city of Hodeida, a conduit for 90 percent of food imports.
The Saudi-led coalition has for months led an offensive to retake Hodeida.
The battle has sparked fears for more than 150,000 civilians trapped in the city. Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse the rebels of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeida as well as the defunct Sanaa international airport, a charge Tehran denies.
Ajri also rebuffed a government suggestion that the defunct Sanaa international airport be reopened as a hub for domestic flights.
"Sanaa airport is an international airport," Ajri said, slamming government-imposed restrictions on the airport as "arbitrary".
The airport was shut down in the aftermath of 2014, when the Huthis overran the capital and a string of Yemeni ports, triggering the intervention of the Saudi-led alliance on behalf of the embattled government the following year.
The Yemen war has triggered what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis and pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine, with 14 million people facing imminent mass starvation. (AFP) SCY
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