Abu Dhabi, UAE (CNN)Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat announced on Monday a proposal to end the six-year conflict in Yemen, including an offer of a ceasefire and political agreement with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control strategic parts of the country.
The kingdom said it would adhere to a UN-monitored country-wide ceasefire with Houthi rebels if the group agreed to the terms of the initiative.
The announcement comes as the Saudi-led coalition has intensified airstrikes over Yemen in recent weeks, hitting dozens of targets, including the capital Sanaa and a grains port on the Red Sea coast.
Houthi rebels have also ramped up attacks on Saudi Arabia over the past few months, launching almost daily explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles targeting airports, military bases and key oil facilities.
The Saudi initiative is the latest attempt at establishing a ceasefire between Yemen’s warring parties. The UN has been engaged in a stalled years-long negotiations between the opposing sides. More recently, the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken received no response after offering peace talks to the Houthis.
One Houthi official dismissed the initiative as “not serious or new,” according to Houthi-owned Al Masirah news agency.
Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdel Salam said on Twitter that any agreement must address a Saudi air and sea blockade. A recent CNN investigation in Yemen revealed that not a single oil tanker has been able to dock in Yemen’s northern port of Hodeidah this year because of a blockade enforced by Saudi warships.
“Any position or initiative that does not acknowledge the aggression and blockade of the last six years and separates the humanitarian aspect from military and political issues and lifts the blockade is not new or serious,” Salam said on Twitter.
The blockade has starved the Houthis of income from oil taxes, but has also critically hampered humanitarian agencies’ ability to deliver aid, including food, as famine creeps into the country.
The Iran-aligned Houthi group controls northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa and Hodeidah, and has been at war with a Saudi-led military alliance since 2015.
When asked how a “UN monitored” ceasefire would work, Saudi officials giving a briefing to journalists said they didn’t have details about where and how many UN officials would be involved. They said that would be “up to the UN envoys to arrange.”
President Joe Biden announced earlier this year that the US would end support for Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in Yemen, in a move hailed by lawmakers as “historic.”
CNN’s Angela Dewan contributed to this report from London.