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Yemen Rejects Houthi Attempts to Implement Swap Deal in Stages

Yemen Rejects Houthi Attempts to Implement Swap Deal in Stages

Wednesday, 5 August, 2020 - 08:00
UN envoy Martin Griffiths, to his right, head of the delegation of the Red Cross committee in Sanaa, when they attended talks between the government and Houthis in Amman last year. (Getty Images)

The Yemeni legitimate government confirmed its commitment to the full implementation of the Amman Agreement on a prisoner exchange deal with the Iran-backed Houthi militias. The agreement, which Houthis are looking to implement in stages, stipulates the release of 1,420 people in its first phase.

Human rights deputy and negotiating member Majed Fadael, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, denied the government approved to divide the deal in phases.

The agreement was brokered in April after rounds of negotiations in the Jordanian capital, Amman, under the supervision of United Nations special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths’ office.

“There are no new talks. We are only discussing what we had arrived to in the third round of talks in Amman and this involves the release of 1,420 detainees in the first stage, building up to the point where a total swap is implemented through others,” Fadael told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“We have exchanged name roasters, and the swap is still underway, but we are yet to finalize the agreement on all names. There is a sufficient number of names that have been approved though and we insist that the swap includes 1,420 detainees,” Fadael added.

He stressed that the names of those to be released include detainees linked to the Arab coalition, one of the four included named in a UN Security Council resolution, journalists and the elderly.

While the Yemeni official stressed the importance of expediting the implementation of the lists of names, he accused the Houthi group of intransigence and evasiveness towards the Amman Agreement.

Rival parties in the Yemen conflict are in talks on a "quite considerable" prisoner exchange deal, a senior official from the International Committee of the Red Cross has told AFP.

"Today, the parties are talking about a prisoner release that is quite considerable, but there is still a bit of agreement that has to be made on lists" and implementation, said Franz Rauchenstein, head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen.

He said the agency was working very closely with the two parties to strike a deal.

"We are very hopeful it might take place in a few days or weeks from now, and the ICRC would be ready of course to implement that logistically," Rauchenstein said in an interview at the weekend.

"But there are still a few agreements to finalize," he added.

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