Yemen's Houthi rebels announce breakdown of talks with Saudi Arabia

Yemen's Houthi rebels announce breakdown of talks with Saudi Arabia

Houthi rebels’ Supreme Political Council head Mahdi al-Mashat cites disagreements over salaries to be paid to civil servants in Yemen as reasons for halt in talks with Riyadh

By Muhammed Semiz

ISTANBUL (AA) – The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have announced that negotiations with Saudi Arabia to resolve the region's crisis have stalled due to a disagreement over the source of funds to be paid to civil servants as salaries.

The Houthi rebels' SABA news agency reported on Saturday that the head of the group's Supreme Political Council, Mahdi al-Mashat, announced the halt in negotiations with Saudi Arabia during a speech at the beginning of the new academic year in the capital Sana'a.

Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels have been negotiating a new and potentially permanent cease-fire in recent months in Sana'a, the country's capital controlled by the group since it drove the Yemeni government out almost eight years ago.

Mashat said he was leading the negotiating delegation with Saudi Arabia, but that the talks had stalled due to a disagreement over the source of funds to pay civil servant salaries.

Nearly 500,000 civil servants living in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen have had their salaries cut for years due to the war in the country and the split of the Central Bank.

Though the details of the initial agreements have not yet been made public by either the Saudi government or the Houthi rebels, Mashat's announcement indicated that Riyadh had agreed to pay the pending salaries of these employees.

Riyadh was asked to pay civil servants' salaries from Yemen's oil and gas revenues, Mashat said, adding that Saudi Arabia wanted to transfer oil and gas revenues to its central bank and then pay civil servants' salaries as "charity."

Meanwhile, four Houthi militias were killed in clashes between government forces and Houthis in Yemen. While the Houthi militias were buried in the capital Sana'a, no information was given about the regions where the clashes took place.

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have been in control of the capital Sana'a and some regions since September 2014.

Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia have been supporting the Yemeni government against the Houthis since March 2015.

Yemenis are hopeful for a resolution to the country's crisis and conflicts following the April 6 agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which marked the resumption of their relations after seven years.

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