Yemen’s Sanaa airport expected to re-open next week

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Sanaa: Arrangements are underway to re-open Yemens Houthi-controlled Sanaa airport next week, nearly five years after it closed to commercial flights, informed sources said on Thursday.

The airport is ready to operate and receive international flights starting next week, the sources told dpa news agency.

 Yemen Airways also received notifications from the airport and the Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority to prepare to resume flights to and from Sanaa.

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The airport will operate flights connecting eight international destinations, the sources said, without naming them.

 A Omani delegation was in Sanaa this week for talks with the Houthi rebels, who have seized the capital and other areas since late 2014. Re-opening the Sanaa airport is part of a UN-backed initiative to end the conflict.

It has been closed to commercial flights in August 2016 by the Saudi-led alliance fighting the Houthis. Omani mediators also discussed a partial re-opening of the Hodeida port and a ceasefire that would be followed by UN-sponsored political negotiations.

On Wednesday, Omani Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi met with his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Riyadh. In March, Saudi Arabia offered an initiative to the Houthis that would include a UN-supervised ceasefire and the reopening of Sanaa airport. At the time, the Houthis dismissed the proposal as “not serious”.

Last week, US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking held talks during a regional tour that included Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The State Department said the Houthis “bear major responsibility for refusing to engage meaningfully on a ceasefire” to end the conflict.