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Yemen Prisoner Swap under Way As First Plane Leaves: ICRC

Al-Manar – A Yemen prisoner swap deal has begun as a first plane departs Sana’a for Aden, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), amid concerted diplomatic efforts to negotiate an end to the Saudi war.

A three-day exchange of more than 800 prisoners has started on Friday in a United Nations and Red Cross-brokered deal, Yemeni sources said.

Local media reports said that the popular Ansarullah resistance movement have agreed to release 181 detainees, including Saudis and Sudanese soldiers who were part of the Saudi-led war on Yemen which received logistical and intelligence support from the US and other Western countries. In exchange, 706 prisoners held by the Saudi-backed former Yemeni regime will be released in the UN and ICRC-brokered prisoner swap deal reached last March in Switzerland.

The Red Cross said that on Friday, there would be two rounds of simultaneous flights between Aden and Sana’a to transfer the prisoners. The three-day operation is the most significant prisoner exchange in Yemen since both sides freed more than 1,000 detainees in October 2020.

Initial agreement on Truce

On Thursday, a Saudi delegation left war-torn Yemen with an “initial agreement” on a truce and a commitment to hold a second round of talks with the Yemen’s Ansarullah movement, one week after Riyadh had informed Sana’a its decision to put an end to the war.

“There is an initial agreement on a truce that should be announced later on, if finalized,” an Ansarullah official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding, “There is an agreement to hold another round of talks.”

The negotiating team was headed by ambassador Mohammed al-Jaber who left four days after he arrived seeking to “stabilize” a truce that lapsed in 2022. “There is an agreement to hold another round of talks to further discuss points of difference,” the official said.

Earlier last week, the spokesman of Ansarullah said Yemen will continue efforts to end the 8-year-long aggression and establish peace.

Mohammad Abdul Salam was quoted by al-Mayadeen TV station as saying, “We pursue our efforts through negotiations to end the aggression and lift the siege, and we hope that the efforts will be crowned with a peace agreement.”

The war in Yemen has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with tens of thousands killed and millions displaced and in need of humanitarian aid.

The latest developments come as observers believe the recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia could help enhance stability in the region and, in part, facilitate efforts to reach sustainable peace in Yemen.

Tehran and Riyadh agreed to restore diplomatic ties on March 10 after intensive talks hosted by China. Top diplomats of the two countries also held a landmark meeting on Thursday in Beijing, stressing on efforts to enhance mutual trust and help boost regional security.

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