Houthi rebels outside Sanaa Airport, Yemen
Houthi rebels outside Sanaa Airport, Yemen Reuters

Yemen's warring parties have agreed on a ceasefire starting on April 10 followed by peace talks, a UN envoy said Wednesday, according to AFP.

Violence has escalated in Yemen since September 2014, when Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels stormed the capital Sanaa and forced the internationally recognized government, led by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to flee south to the second city of Aden.

It is believed Iran is planning to use the Houthis to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controls the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat, though Tehran denies the charges.

"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," UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was quoted by AFP as having told a news 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 the Houthi offensive.

Yemeni officials said earlier this week that the Houthis and the government had agreed to begin a ceasefire, but Ahmed's comments Wednesday confirmed the ceasefire.

Previous UN-sponsored negotiations between the Houthis 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.

"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 both the government and the rebels.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216 calls for the rebels to 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.