US, others express hope for Yemen cease-fire in next days

US, others express hope for Yemen cease-fire in next days

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LONDON (AP) — The United States and Britain expressed hope on Sunday that a cease-fire can be reached in Yemen in the coming days, as a flurry of diplomacy focused on the impoverished, war-torn country.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said mediation is ongoing involving Yemen's exiled, internationally-recognized government and the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who control much of the country.

"This is the time to implement a cease-fire unconditionally and then move to the negotiating table," Kerry said.

The United States backs the internationally-recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, as well as a Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels since last year.

The war, which broke out in 2014, has been largely overshadowed by the conflict against the Islamic State group elsewhere in the Middle East, though rights groups have mounted increased criticism of the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes in recent months — and the United States as their primary weapons supplier.

After the meeting in London, Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the U.N. special envoy to Yemen, called for an immediate cease-fire to begin in the coming days.

Ahmed, the U.N. envoy, said one could be declared "in the next few hours," after he had been in contact with Hadi's government and the Houthis' lead negotiator. He said he hoped for "clearer plans" on a formal cease-fire in coming days.

Their meeting in London also included the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia.

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