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Saudi Arabia proposes humanitarian truce in Yemen

The fight against Houthi rebels and a coalition arms embargo have also caused hunger and shortages of food and fuel, worsening Yemen's humanitarian crisis and prompting alarm around the world.

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    Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, speaks during a joint news conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry, at Riyadh Air Base in Saudi Arabia, Thursday, May 7, 2015.
    Andrew Harnik/AP
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Saudi Arabia proposed a five-day humanitarian truce in Yemen on Thursday after weeks of airstrikes and fighting, but said a ceasefire depended on the Houthi militia and its allies also agreeing to lay down arms, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, addressing a news conference alongside Jubeir in Riyadh, welcomed the proposal and added that neither Saudi Arabia nor the United States was talking about sending ground troops into Yemen.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in air raids and fighting since a Saudi-led coalition began strikes against the Houthis on March 26, aimed at pushing the Iranian-allied militia back from captured areas and restoring President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government.

The fighting and a coalition arms embargo have also caused hunger and shortages of food and fuel, worsening Yemen's humanitarian crisis and prompting alarm around the world.

"The pause will affect all of Yemen for a period of five days. The actual date will be announced shortly as well as the requirements. This is all based on the Houthis complying with the ceasefire," Jubeir said.

Despite the airstrikes, the Houthis and forces loyal to a former president have remained entrenched in areas they seized earlier this year and on Wednesday took an important district in Aden, leading to speculation about a possible coalition land operation.

Kerry added that he was "very, very concerned" by Iranian activities in Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

The secretary spoke about the situation on Wednesday, as reported in the Monitor.

At a news conference in Djibouti, an African nation that has taken in several thousand refugees from Yemen, Kerry that it was important that conditions to the pause are adhered to so that no party uses the time period to seize territory or otherwise exploit the situation.

"The situation is getting more dire by the day," he said.

Kerry blamed Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis for the continued violence, but he said he believed a break in the fighting could be arranged in the coming days. He seemed to suggest that he discussed the situation this week with Iran's foreign minister.

He credited the Saudis for efforts to increase access for aid agencies trying to reach civilians in Yemen. He also announced $68 million in new US aid to help meet a growing need for food, water and shelter there. He said the US was giving $2 million to help Djibouti deal with an influx of Yemeni refugees.

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