Efforts to end Yemen's devastating war picked up pace Monday as the government and rebels edged closer to peace talks and Britain led a push at the UN Security Council for an immediate truce.

Yemen peace Talk To begin ahead of UN envoy's visit
The moves came ahead of a visit in the next few days to the Arabian Peninsula country by UN envoy Martin Griffiths, once again trying to get all sides around the negotiating table.

The government has informed the UN envoy to Yemen... that it will send a government delegation to the talks with the aim of reaching a political solution," Yemen's foreign ministry said, quoted by the official Saba news agency.

Earlier, Mohammed Ali al-Huthi, head of the Huthi rebels' Higher Revolutionary Committee and an influential political figure, tweeted that he wanted his group to announce "readiness to suspend and halt all military operations" and stop firing missiles on Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition backing the Yemeni government, also lent its support to new talks.

A UN draft resolution on Yemen presented to the Security Council Monday calls for an immediate truce in the battleground port city of Hodeida, according to the draft seen by AFP.

However, fierce fighting broke out in the city late Monday between rebels and pro-government forces, according to military officials.

The fighting was the worst since forces loyal to the government halted an offensive last week, and was concentrated in the eastern part of the city where rebels fired artillery.

Pro-government forces responded while planes from the Saudi-led coalition launched 12 raids, the sources said.

The text of the draft UN resolution, circulated by Britain to the 14 other council members, sets a two-week deadline for the warring sides to remove all barriers to humanitarian aid.

The proposed resolution would significantly ratchet up pressure on the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-linked Huthi rebels to seek a negotiated settlement in Yemen, where millions are on the brink of starvation.

It also calls for a large injection of foreign currency into the economy to support Yemen's collapsing currency and for salaries of civil servants, teachers, and health workers to be paid within a month.



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