UAE supports 'early convening' of UN Yemen talks

Yemeni pro-government forces gather on the eastern outskirts of Hodeida as they continue to battle for the control of the city

READ MOREFighting rages street-to-street in Yemen's key port city of Hodeida

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the destruction of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, a vital lifeline for millions of starving civilians, could trigger a "catastrophic" situation.

"The battles will not stop, except with the liberation of Hodeida and the whole west coast", he said.

Yemeni government forces covered by the coalition's air and naval forces continue to engage in heavy fighting with the rebels, known as Houthis. The UN reported that just 60% of Yemen's monthly food requirement came through the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef in October.

The office of British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Saudi-led alliance fighting on the side of the government had agreed to the evacuation of up to 50 wounded Huthi fighters to Oman following his visit to Riyadh.

A building in the port of Hodeida, a city in western Yemen controlled by Houthi rebels and targeted by a loyalist offensive backed by Saudi Arabia, was hit by an attack on Monday, it was reported on Tuesday.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 with the aim of defeating the Iran-aligned rebels and to restore the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The rebels have begun to evacuate their wounded to Sanaa, the capital, which the Houthis seized during a 2014 takeover that included a string of ports on Yemen's coastline.

Pro-government forces have temporarily stopped their advance into the city to allow safe passage for civilians, humanitarian staff and wounded, a military official told AFP.

Four employees in Hodeida port who requested anonymity told AFP that a rebel commander had been killed in the attack on Monday.

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The Saudi-led coalition has also come worldwide pressure to end the conflict following the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The United States has made a decision to halt refuelling of aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen.

"We haven't heard any explosions, unlike the past two weeks".

Mutawakel said Saudi Arabia's refusal to let exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's government maintain a presence on the ground, the blockade of air and sea ports of entry and the collapse of Yemen's currency after the closure of the country's central bank had also driven the starvation.

The United States, Britain and France this week called for the cessation of hostilities in Yemen and the resumption of negotiations to end the war.

"We welcome early convening of UN-led talks in Sweden", the UAE state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, tweeted in English.

World Food programme (WFP) executive director David Beasley arrived in Yemen on Sunday to assess food security in the impoverished Arab country that has been pushed to the brink of starvation by more than three years of war.

Global concern about damage to the port has been heightened by widespread malnutrition after four years of war that has placed some 14 million Yemenis at risk of starvation, according to United Nations agencies.

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