Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis have indicated they would be willing to hand over management of Hodeidah port to the United Nations, a potential breakthrough in a conflict that has caused the world's worst humanitarian crisis, sources familiar with the efforts said.Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a swift military operation to take over the airport and seaport without entering the city center, to minimize civilian casualties and maintain the flow of essential goods. The Saudis and Emiratis, who intervened in Yemen in 2015, say they must recapture Hodeida to deprive the Houthis of their main source of income and prevent them from bringing in missiles.
Hodeida port is a principal entry point for relief supplies for Yemen. U.N. officials have warned that large-scale fighting in the city could threaten tens of thousands. U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths has been in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this week to try to negotiate a solution.
A Western diplomat said the United Nations would oversee income from the port and make sure it gets to Yemen's central bank. The understanding is for Yemeni state employees to remain working alongside the United Nations. The sources cautioned that the plan still needed agreement from all sides to the conflict, and would not, at least in its initial stages, result in an immediate ceasefire.
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