Yemen, Houthi rebels agree to ceasefire in key port city

Warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeidah, the United Nations announced Thursday, prompting cautious optimism about progress in ending the long-running war.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in Sweden that Saudi-backed Yemeni fighters and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels had agreed to the ceasefire in the city and around the port, which serves as a gateway for 70 percent of humanitarian aid entering the country.

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"The UN will play a leading role in the port," Guterres said. "This will facilitate the humanitarian access and the flow of goods to the civilian population. It will improve the living conditions for millions of Yemenis."

The announcement, which came as a result of the first direct peace talks in years, provided limited specifics, stating that the agreement "shall be implemented in phases."

The New York Times reported that Yemen's foreign minister said the ceasefire would come to fruition only if Houthi rebels left the city first.

Martin Griffiths, the U.N. envoy for Yemen, said he expected that to occur in the next several days, the Times reported.

Tens of thousands of people, including scores of civilians, have died in the Yemeni conflict, and numerous others have suffered starvation as humanitarian aid struggles to make its way into the country.

The Senate on Wednesday voted to advance a resolution ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in the Yemeni civil war. The vote allowed senators to begin debate on the measure, which would require President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE to withdraw any troops in or “affecting” Yemen within 30 days.

Trump has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. 

The House on Wednesday passed the farm bill, which contained an unrelated measure that blocks its members from being able to force a vote this year on a similar measure related to Yemen's civil war.