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Saudi Arabia says prepared for ceasefire in Yemen if Houthis agree

LONDON: Saudi Arabia is prepared to agree to a ceasefire in Yemen if the Houthis agree, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Monday, adding that he was skeptical about efforts for peace after previous ceasefire attempts had failed.

The Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen has faced heavy criticism since an air strike this month on a funeral gathering in the Yemeni capital Sanaa that killed 140 people according to a United Nations’ estimate and 82 according to the Houthis.

The United States and Britain, which have both supported the Saudi-led campaign, called on Sunday for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire between Houthis and the Saudi-backed, internationally recognized government.

“We would like to see a ceasefire yesterday,” Jubeir told reporters in London. “Everybody wants a ceasefire in Yemen, nobody more so than the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the coalition members.”

He accused the Houthis of reneging on previous deals.

“So yes, we come at this with a lot of cynicism. But we are prepared, the Yemeni government is prepared, to agree to a cessation of hostilities if the Houthis agree to it. The coalition countries will respect the desire of the Yemeni government,” Jubeir said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, together with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, met Jubeir and officials from the United Arab Emirates on Sunday and said the conflict in Yemen was causing increasing international concern.

“The fatalities that we’re seeing there are unacceptable,” Johnson said. Britain’s Foreign Office said that Saudi Arabia’s approach to humanitarian law will be a factor in London’s continual assessment of arms sales to the kingdom, and it would look into the air strike on the funeral as part of that process.

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