DUBAI (Reuters) - A Houthi delegation is to travel to Oman on Saturday for preliminary consultations on U.N.-sponsored Geneva peace talks aimed at resolving Yemen’s complex civil war, a spokesman for the Iran-allied militia said.
At the same time, spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam called on Houthi supporters to remain steadfast against what he called continued “schemes” by the Saudi-led Arab coalition that intervened militarily in March in support of exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Yemen’s war pits the Gulf Arab coalition and local forces loyal to Hadi against the Houthis and their allies among army units who back ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Abdul Salam said the Houthis, who seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa last year, accepted the invitation to consultations in Oman after receiving a “positive response” to their suggestions for the talks agenda.
“We hope [the dialogue] will be serious and constructive, leading to a halt in aggression, lifting of the siege and revival of the political process,” he wrote in a Facebook post announcing the trip.
“Based on all that, we will depart Sanaa International Airport today, God willing, for the Omani capital of Muscat.”
The delegation was also invited to meet European envoys to clarify the Houthi political vision for Yemen, he said.
Hadi returned from Saudi Arabia to the southern port city of Aden on Tuesday to rally forces loyal to him and oversee a campaign to retake the central city of Taiz, a presidential spokesman said.
The war in Yemen, the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, has killed at least 5,700 people and created a humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the Arab coalition’s blockade of Yemeni ports.
Houthi fighters in northern Yemen attempted to storm the Saudi border near Jebel Razeh on Saturday morning but were repelled by Saudi guards, and around 30 combatants were killed, according to local residents.
The Houthis also lost six men in central province of Marib when armed tribesmen ambushed their convoy to prevent the militia transiting their territory, tribal sources said.
Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Katie Paul; Editing by Mark Heinrich