Kerry welcomes Yemen ceasefire as possible step to peace


US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday welcomed the announcement by all parties in Yemen of a ceasefire which he said could help "create the conditions for advancing the peace talks."

The 48-hour ceasefire began on Saturday following an intervention by Kerry, who had met with Houthi rebel representatives in Oman and urged President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government to sign up. On Sunday, sporadic fighting shook parts of Yemen as the Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels, who are backed by Iran, warned that the fragile ceasefire would not be extended unless violations ended.

An agency correspondent in Sanaa said there had been no coalition air strikes in the rebel-held capital since the truce took effect. A military official said there were "limited exchanges of fire" in the flashpoint south-western city of Taez, where heavy fighting in recent days has left dozens dead.

Aid agencies have pleaded for unhindered humanitarian access in Yemen to allow the delivery of life-saving supplies to civilians reeling from a conflict that has left thousands dead.

Kerry, in his statement Sunday, said that the United States continued to support the efforts of UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed to restart, by month's end, negotiations toward a comprehensive agreement.

"We are mindful that reaching a durable and lasting settlement to this conflict requires compromise and concessions," Kerry said, "and we encourage all parties to seek that compromise."    (AFP)

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