Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Both sides in Yemen's civil war will meet in Stockholm for peace talks this week and have agreed to a large swap of prisoners.
Yemen foreign minister Khaled al-Yamani, part of the pro-government force backed by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, said Tuesday they've "come to an agreement" with the Houthis after being deadlocked in negotiations for months.
"When we head to the negotiations in Sweden, we will discuss the operational issues of this agreement, how it can be implemented, how to exchange the detainees, prisoners, abductees and the forcibly disappeared," al-Yamani said.
The agreed prisoner swap, which will involve hundreds of inmates, is building confidence that there could be a genuine cease-fire and an end to the war that's dragged on for four years. The war is a proxy battle for control of the region between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which backs the Houthis.
"The U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffith, communicated to us that coalition forces and the Yemeni government have also signed the prisoner exchange agreement that was signed in November by the Houthis," said Abdul Qadar al-Murtaza, chairman of the Houthi Committee for Prisoner Affairs. "We express hope that the implementation phase of this agreement will proceed smoothly."
The war has perpetuated what some say is the worst humanitarian crisis in history. Advocacy agencies estimate 14 million people are at risk of starving to death. The United Nations estimates that number is lower, about 8 million today and 12 million next year.
A U.N. flight Tuesday transported 50 wounded Houthi fighters to Oman for medical care, and the Houthi peace delegation was set to fly out of the airport in Sana'a.
"It's encouraging that the airlift has happened and that the Houthi delegation looks set to leave Sana'a, but it's important to remember the odds are stacked toward the worst case scenario and against a peaceful resolution in the near term," said Peter Salisbury, a senior fellow at Chatham House's Middle East & North Africa Program. "The pressure and hard work that got us here needs to be maintained."