UAE minister Anwar Gargash welcomes Saudi ceasefire decision in Yemen

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Suspension in fighting was agreed in part to avoid a potential outbreak of COVID-19

Dubai: UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash welcomed on Thursday the Saudi-led coalition announcment of a two-week ceasefire in military operations in Yemen.

In a tweet, Gargash said: “The coalition’s decision, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to cease fire in Yemen for a period of two weeks is a wise and responsible decision. With repeated calls for a political solution, fears of the spread of the coronavirus complicate the ongoing humanitarian crisis. An important decision that must be built on humanly and politically.”

The Saudi-led military coalition declared a two-week ceasefire in Yemen starting Thursday in a bid to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a senior Saudi official said.

“We are announcing a ceasefire starting (Thursday) for two weeks. We are expecting the Huthis (Yemeni rebels) will accept. We are preparing the ground to fight COVID-19” in Yemen, the official said.

The unilateral ceasefire will begin at 9am GMT on Thursday (1pm UAE), he added. The Saudi-led military coalition has been active in Yemen’s conflict in support of an internationally recognised government since 2015.

The gesture is the first by any government entangled in an international armed conflict to halt hostilities at least in part because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has traumatized the world. The leader of the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, pleaded for a worldwide humanitarian cease-fire two weeks ago because of the pandemic.