Saudi, Omani envoys reach Sanaa to hold talks with Houthi leader

Saudi and Omani delegations have arrived in Yemeni capital Sanaa to hold talks with the head of Yemen's Houthi Supreme Political Council, Houthi-run news agency Saba said on Sunday.

Quoting a source in the Houthi presidential council, Saba said the delegations and Mahdi al-Mashat would discuss "lifting the siege with all its repercussions", an end to aggression, and the restoration of the Yemeni people's rights, including paying the salaries of all state employees from oil and gas revenue.

A visit by Saudi officials to Yemen indicates progress in Oman-mediated talks between Riyadh and the Houthis, which run in parallel to UN peace efforts, as well as a reduction in tensions after Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore relations.

The arrival of Saudi and Omani officials come a day after the Houthis received 13 detainees released by Saudi Arabia in exchange for a Saudi detainee freed earlier, which is part of a wider prisoner exchange agreed by the warring sides.

At talks in Switzerland last month, attended by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, Yemen's Saudi-backed government and the Houthis agreed to free 887 detainees.

The UN special envoy to Yemen has said the deal is one of several developments reflecting movement towards ending the eight-year conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and caused a humanitarian crisis.

(With input from Reuters)

(Cover: This picture shows a view of Sanaa's old city with its UNESCO-listed buildings on March 26, 2023. /CFP)

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