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Washington Backs Off: Ceasefire Agreement Only With Houthis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry departs his plane as he arrives in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Ralston/Pool

Aden, Riyadh, Washington-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter to Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi on Thursday, clarifying his comments about an agreement to stop hostilities in Yemen and reach a durable settlement to the conflict, saying he had struck the deal only with the Houthis.

The Yemeni official news agency SABA said that Kerry officially apologized to the Yemeni president in the letter handed to him in Riyadh by Assistant Secretary Tim King and U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Mathew Tueller.

The news agency said Kerry explained that his comments were “misinterpreted, especially by the media,” and that he has neither informed the Arab Coalition nor the Yemeni government about the deal.

However, U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby ruled out later on Thursday that Kerry would apologize from his last position.

“I think the Secretary would make no apologies for having a sense of urgency here to try to end this conflict. You want to call it in a hurry? Fine, you can call it in a hurry,” Kirby said.

The spokesperson said Department officials met Thursday with Yemeni government officials to discuss the U.S. position toward reaching a durable settlement to the conflict.

“We want all sides to return to a cessation of hostilities and to accept the U.N. roadmap as a basis for discussions,” he added.

Meanwhile, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi told Asharq Al-Awsat that during their meeting with the president on Thursday, the U.S. delegates explained to Hadi that Kerry has not informed the legitimate government or the Arab Coalition about a ceasefire deal, but that the U.S. Secretary of State has only agreed on the cessation of hostilities with the Houthis.

In a related development, Human Rights Watch accused rebel militias in Yemen (Houthis and Saleh) of having arbitrarily detained, tortured, and forcibly disappeared numerous opponents.

In a statement issued on Thursday, HRH said Houthis have arbitrary detained and mistreated a large number of opponents since they controlled the capital Sana’a two years ago.

The group said that since September 2014, it has documented two deaths in custody and 11 cases of alleged torture or other ill treatment, including the abuse of a child.