Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Calls for Yemen Ceasefire

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Calls for Yemen Ceasefire

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi during a ceremony marking the National day of Nuclear Technology in Tehran. (AFP Photo / HO / Iranian Presidency)


Tehran: 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called today for a ceasefire in the conflict in Yemen between forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Shiite rebels backed by Tehran.

Rouhani, who made his remarks in a speech marking Iran's National Nuclear Technology Day, also stressed the need for urgent humanitarian aid in a war that has killed at least 643 civilians and wounded another 2,226.

He spoke a day after Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif urged a swift end to the crisis with a call for an immediate ceasefire, followed by humanitarian assistance, dialogue among Yemenis and the formation of an "all-inclusive government."

"Everyone should be thinking of putting an end to the war, of a ceasefire and of humanitarian aid," Rouhani said, calling on the Arab coalition carrying out air strikes on Shiite Huthi rebels to "reverse course."

The Saudi-led forces launched the air strikes last month as the rebels advanced on Yemen's main southern city of Aden after seizing the capital.

Hadi fled Aden for Saudi Arabia during the Huthi advance and the city has since seen heavy clashes between pro- and anti-government forces.

Rouhani also spoke of the plight of Yemeni children, with UNICEF having said at least 74 have been killed and 44 wounded since the bombing began on March 26.

"Do not kill innocent children," he said, without pointing the finger at any country.

"Why massacre people?" he asked, saying "a great people like the Yemenis will not surrender to bombing."

Riyadh has accused Tehran, the major Shiite power, of backing the rebels in a bid to establish a pro-Iran state on its doorstep.

But Zarif, speaking in Islamabad yesterday, rejected the claims and said "fighting will not resolve this problem".

"We are not bombarding anyone," he said. "Our planes are not there hitting hospitals and bridges and flour factories."

But US Secretary of State John Kerry openly accused Iran yesterday of providing support to the rebels.

"There have been - there are, obviously - flights coming from Iran. Every single week there are flights from Iran and we've traced it and know this," he said in a television interview.



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