The US envoy to Yemen: Houthi demands for a truce are exaggerated and impossible

Today, Wednesday, the US special envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, called on the Houthi group to show more flexibility over an expanded armistice agreement proposed by the United Nations to build on an earlier agreement that expired on Sunday, after he described their demands as “exaggerated” and “impossible.”

Lenderking told a press briefing that the Houthis, who control northern Yemen, "made exaggerated and impossible demands" on a proposed mechanism for paying public sector salaries, but he was confident that an agreement could be reached if the group showed more flexibility.

Lenderking said the negotiations led by the United Nations and US diplomacy "continue without interruption." 

He added that the main elements of the initial truce are still holding, such as the relative reduction in violence and fuel shipments to the port of Hodeidah and the continuation of commercial flights from the capital, Sanaa, and the Houthis control both cities.

"I'm confident we can get there if the Houthis drop the very high demands that they made," Linderking said.

He also criticized recent Houthi statements that threaten commercial shipping and oil companies, and said the United States will continue to help its Arab partners in the Gulf to defend themselves.

For his part, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint in order to allow the ongoing discussions to bear fruit and pull Yemen out of the cycle of violence, Reuters reported.

Grundberg urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint in this particularly sensitive period of time, noting that any small incident currently could lead to serious consequences.

He also called on everyone to allow the ongoing discussions to bear fruit, and to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to get Yemen out of the cycle of violence that it has been experiencing for seven years.

In parallel, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen indicated that the issue of salary payments is complex and cannot be resolved easily.

He said that the issue on the negotiating table requires a long-term solution and no one can expect a quick and easy settlement for it.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Mehr news agency reported that the Iranian Foreign Minister's chief adviser on political affairs, Ali Asghar Khaji, held a "video" conference with the United Nations envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, as part of consultations for a peaceful settlement of the situation in Yemen.

The two sides stressed the need to intensify efforts to restore the ceasefire and extend the armistice in Yemen.

Earlier, the European Union mission to Yemen issued a statement criticizing the hard-line demands of the Houthi group, which did not facilitate the extension of the UN armistice that expired last Sunday.

The European statement expressed deep concern over what it considered "unacceptable threats" from the Houthis to attack oil companies and commercial shipping in neighboring countries.

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