U.S. says Yemen prisoner swap deal is an important step forward

File – Material damage after a Saudi-led coalition bombed Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. – Hani Al-Ansi/dpa

The U.S. Government has stressed that the agreement between the warring parties in Yemen for the exchange of nearly 900 detainees is »an important step forward» and has again endorsed efforts for »a lasting solution» to the war.

»The United States applauds the major agreement, facilitated by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the release of 887 detainees in the conflict in Yemen,» said U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel.

»This agreement is an important step forward that reinforces the momentum of the UN-mediated truce and de-escalation period, which has lasted nearly a year,» he said, before stressing that »the United States remains unwaveringly committed to making progress toward a lasting solution to the conflict.»

The Yemeni government’s internationally recognized chief negotiator, Majed Fadael, said that 880 people will benefit from the agreement, which has included four journalists sentenced to death and senior officials such as a former defense minister, as well as the sons of a prominent presidential advisor.

For his part, a spokesman for the Huthis, Abdulqadir al Mortada specified that the pact will allow the rebels to recover 706 prisoners in exchange for handing over 181, while saying that the exchange will take place in about three weeks and will lead to another round of negotiations once the holy month of Ramadan has passed.

The war in Yemen pits the internationally recognized government, now represented by the Presidential Leadership Council and backed by the Saudi-led international coalition, against the Iranian-backed Huthis. The Huthis control the capital, Sana’a, and areas in the north and west of the country.

The recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran for the normalization of their bilateral relations, broken in 2016, has given a boost to international efforts to resolve the conflict and there have even been media reports that Tehran has agreed to stop giving weapons to the Huthis.