FILE - U.N. envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths listens to the undersecretary of Houthi-led government's foreign ministry, Faisal Amin Abu-Rass upon his arrival at Sanaa airport in Sanaa, Yemen, June 16, 2018.
FILE - U.N. envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths listens to the undersecretary of Houthi-led government's foreign ministry, Faisal Amin Abu-Rass upon his arrival at Sanaa airport in Sanaa, Yemen, June 16, 2018.

SANAA - The U.N. envoy to Yemen has expressed optimism after meeting with the top leader of the Houthi rebels in a bid to end the country's devastating civil war.

In a statement issued before his departure from the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, Martin Griffiths said the rebels expressed a "strong desire for peace'' and discussed "concrete ideas for achieving peace," without elaborating.
 
He said he may meet with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in the southern city of Aden.

A Saudi-led coalition allied with Hadi's internationally recognized government has been at war with the Houthis since 2015, and previous peace efforts have failed.

The U.N. hopes to prevent a full-scale coalition assault on the port city of Hodeida, a vital lifeline for a country already teetering on the brink of famine.