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Yemen: Houthis to release 15 Saudis and other detainees in swap

Yemeni group says it will release 181 detainees, including 15 Saudi Arabians and three Sudanese, in exchange for 706 prisoners from the government
Freed Yemeni Houthi prisoners chant slogans upon their arrival on 15 Ocotber 2020 (AFP)

The two sides in Yemen's conflict have agreed to exchange some 880 detainees after talks in Switzerland facilitated by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Iran-aligned Houthi group said on Monday that it would release 15 Saudi Arabians, three Sudanese and a number of other detainees in exchange for 700 prisoners from the Saudi-led, Yemeni government side of the conflict.

"The ongoing negotiations in Geneva ... are heading towards reaching a humanitarian deal under which 700 prisoners, including women and civilians, will be freed in exchange for the release of 15 Saudi prisoners of war, three Sudanese and others," the Houthi group's chief negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam said on Twitter.

The head of the Yemeni government delegation told Reuters that around 880 detainees would be exchanged.

The UN and ICRC did not immediately confirm that a deal had been reached.

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There is hope that a deal could facilitate broader efforts to end the conflict, which have been helped by the resumption of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia this month, Reuters reported.

UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg told the Security Council last week that there were intense diplomatic efforts at different levels to end the fighting.

The exchange of around 15,000 conflict-related detainees has been under discussion as a key confidence-building measure under a December 2018 UN-mediated deal known as the Stockholm Agreement.

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