İrem UZUN -TDO- Yemen’s internationally recognised government and the Houthi rebels agreed to exchange 1,081 detainees and prisoners, including 15 Saudis, as part of trust-building steps aimed at reviving a stalled peace process, the United Nations said.  “I am personally extremely pleased to be here to announce that you have reached a very important milestone,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths told reporters on Sunday.

The agreement was reached at the conclusion of 10 days of UN-mediated talks in the Swiss city of Glion. This agreement, when implemented, will be the largest prisoner release between Yemen’s warring parties since they signed a pact to swap some 15,000 prisoners and detainees in Stockholm in 2018.

The UN said the deal was built on a plan that both sides agreed on in February.  Griffiths urged both parties to “move forward immediately with the release and to spare no effort in building upon this momentum to swiftly agree to releasing more detainees.” 

Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting the Western-backed coalition to intervene in March 2015.  The conflict, seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been in military stalemate for years with the Houthis holding Sanaa and most big urban centers.

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