صحف نت - A new round of peace talks between Yemen's warring sides should begin by the end of May, the UN mediator said on Wednesday , as alarm grows over the country's humanitarian crisis.
UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told AFP "We are at the preliminary stage, but time is also a real constraint for us, because my aim is to finish all of this before Ramadan," he said, adding that he hoped "to enter into a new round of talks before Ramadan."
The Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan is set to begin around May 27 this year.
More than 7,700 people have been killed in the past two years of fighting, while the country has plunged into a deep humanitarian crisis and faces the imminent risk of famine.
Hodeida is currently controlled by the Huthis, but fears are mounting over a potential coalition offensive.
The UN and other organisations have urged the Saudi-led coalition not to bomb Hodeida, Yemen's fourth most populated city, and a "major lifeline for a country on the verge of starvation".
"We believe that any military operation on Hodeida will have major humanitarian consequences and could lead to a very high level of civilian casualties," Ould Cheikh Ahmed said .
At the same time, he said, he was hearing concerns from the coalition that the port was being used to smuggle in weapons.
"We are trying to explore various options by which we can reinforce inspection mechanisms maybe or see how we can minimise the risk of any additional smuggling," he said.
The UN mediator said the Houthis had voiced interest in his proposals and that he aimed to invite them to a meeting in Oman next month to discuss different options.
"I'm a bit optimistic, (because) if we are able, as I am hoping, to stop the military operation in Hodeida, I think we are paving the way for new talks," he said, adding that the negotiations would likely be held in Geneva or Kuwait.