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UN Council Pushes Yemen's Warring Parties to Withdraw Hodeidah Troops

FILE - Houthi-allied police secure a street in Hodeida, Yemen, Dec. 31, 2018.

The United Nations Security Council urged the warring parties in Yemen on Monday to withdraw forces from the country's main port of Hodeida and two other ports "without further delays."

Representatives from both parties met for a second day on a ship on the Red Sea on Monday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, in a U.N.-led push to implement the stalled troop withdrawal which was agreed at December talks in Sweden.

"Both parties have reiterated their commitment to implementing the Hodeida aspects of the Stockholm agreement," Dujarric said.

The warring parties were meant to withdraw their forces by Jan. 7 as part of efforts to avert a full-scale assault on Hodeida, but have failed to do so as the Iranian-aligned Houthi group and the Saudi-backed government disagree on who should control the city and ports.

A Sunni Muslim Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after it was ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in 2014.

The truce has largely held in Hodeida, but clashes have increased in recent weeks. Violence has continued in other parts of the country not subject to the deal.

In a statement on Monday, the 15-member U.N. Security Council expressed concern at allegations of violations of the ceasefire. In a Jan. 31 letter to the council, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen accused the Houthis of 970 violations since Dec. 18.

"The members of the Security Council called on the parties to seize this opportunity to move towards sustainable peace by exercising restraint, de-escalating tensions, honoring their commitment to the Stockholm Agreement and moving forward with swift implementation," the council said.

The council asked U.N. Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths "to continue to keep them closely informed of developments so that they may consider further action as necessary in support of a political settlement."