A special UN envoy announced Wednesday a ceasefire across Yemen on April 10 followed a week later by fresh peace talks, raising hopes for a breakthrough in a war that has brought the impoverished Arab country to its knees.
Yemen has been gripped by violence since September 2014, when Iran-backed Huthi rebels stormed the capital Sanaa and forced the internationally recognized government to flee south to the second city of Aden.
"The parties to the conflict have agreed to a nationwide cessation of hostilities beginning April 10 at midnight in advance of the upcoming round of the peace talks, which will take place on April 18 in Kuwait," Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told a press conference in New York.
More than 6,300 people have been killed in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition — which includes Kuwait — began an air war in March last year to push back an offensive by the Huthi rebels, who control Sanaa.
Previous UN-sponsored negotiations between the Shiite rebels and government officials failed to reach a breakthrough, while a ceasefire went into force on December 15 but it was repeatedly violated and the Saudi-led coalition announced an end to the truce on January 2.
Only last month the UN envoy warned that the warring parties were unable to agree on terms for a new round of peace talks, but those divisions appear to have been overcome.
"The aim is to reach an agreement which will end the conflict and allow the resumption of an inclusive political dialogue," Cheikh Ahmed said Wednesday, telling reporters that he had held intense discussions with the internationally recognized government and the rebels.
The face-to-face negotiations are in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216, which states that the rebels must withdraw from seized territories and disarm.
The envoy said he hoped the cessation of hostilities would allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access to millions of suffering Yemenis.
The year-long coalition campaign has faced criticism over civilian casualties.
The UN said earlier this month that Saudi-led raids are responsible for the vast majority of the estimated 3,200 civilian deaths in the Yemen war.