The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen has completed a prisoners’ swap, receiving nine Saudis in exchange for 109 Yemenis, according to a statement from the coalition that comes just days before peace talks are held in Kuwait.
The Saudi statement did not mention with which group the swap was carried out, but the Houthis said Sunday that a swap was agreed upon with Riyadh.
The coalition hopes the move will be a starting point for a peace in Yemen, said the Saudi statement. It added that the nine men were captured on the borders between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
UN-backed peace talks between the two warring parties are scheduled to take place next month.
The UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh said last week that the two sides agreed to start a ceasefire on 10 April, followed by peace talks in Kuwait.
Houthis leader Abdel-Malek Al-Houthi hopes that the negotiations could be the way to end this conflict.
“We hope that efforts to end the aggression will be successful, it is in the interest, and demands, of our people,” Al-Houthi said in a televised speech. “If these efforts do not succeed, we are ready to make sacrifices … it is important to confront aggression if it continues.”
Tens of thousands of Yemenis protested in the capital of Sana’a on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the country’s ongoing war between Houthi rebels and pro-government allies.
Pro-government allies, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have been fighting in a war with Houthi rebels who ousted the government of then president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi last year.
The protest is considered the largest to take place since the 2011 demonstrations that toppled former president Ali Abdallah Saleh, who is now an ally of the Houthis.
During his participation in the protest, Saleh said he wants peace with Saudi Arabia without the intervention of the UN, which “failed to solve anything”.