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U.S. President Trump arrives at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One as they arrive at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

April 24, 2019

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An architect of a still-secret U.S. plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took to Twitter again on Wednesday to disclose another element that it would not contain – a confederation with neighboring Jordan.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, had already tweeted “False!” on Friday to what he said were reports that the proposal would give part of Egypt’s Sinai desert to the adjacent Palestinian enclave of Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist Hamas group.

On Wednesday, Greenblatt denied that the plan envisages a confederation involving Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which administers limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank.

“@KingAbdullahII & #Jordan are strong US allies. Rumors that our peace vision includes a confederation between Jordan, Israel & the PA, or that the vision contemplates making Jordan the homeland for Palestinians, are incorrect. Please don’t spread rumors,” Greenblatt wrote.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, another main architect of the peace proposal, said on Tuesday it would be made public after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends in June.

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka and spoke at a Time magazine forum in Washington, did not say whether the plan called for a two-state solution, a goal of past U.S. peace efforts.

Palestinian leaders have called for the establishment of an independent state alongside Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who won a fifth term in an election two weeks ago, laid down a series of conditions for Palestinian statehood in a major policy speech in 2009.

But U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in 2014, partly over the expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied territory Palestinians seek for their state.

In a last-minute election campaign promise that angered Palestinians, Netanyahu said he planned to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank if he was again chosen as Israel’s leader.

The U.S. proposal, which has been delayed for a variety of reasons over the last 18 months, has two major components. It has a political piece that addresses core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, and an economic part that aims to help the Palestinians strengthen their economy.

Palestinian leaders have said Trump cannot be an honest broker after he broke with long-standing U.S. policy and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moved the American embassy to the city last May.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Migrants are seen at the Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency in Tajora shelter center in Tripoli
Migrants are seen at the Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency in Tajora shelter center in Tripoli, Libya April 24,2019. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

April 24, 2019

By Ahmed Elumami

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan officials have opened the doors of a detention center for illegal migrants in Tripoli, but frightened Somalis and other sub-Saharan Africans told Reuters they had decided to stay for fear of getting caught up in fighting engulfing the capital.

“We don’t want to leave…we have no place to go,” said a 20-year old migrant who gave his name as Daoud, sitting on a mattress in a warehouse where 550 migrants have been held. His pregnant wife sits in a different room.

More than 3,600 jailed migrants have been trapped in the capital since forces from the east of the country started an advance to capture it, the United Nations says.

On Tuesday, some 12 migrants were wounded when unknown gunmen opened fire on them in a detention center in a suburb fought over by both sides, a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said. Details remain unclear. The injured migrants are being treated in a hospital. Amnesty International called for the incident to be investigated as a war crime.

In the quieter eastern Tajoura suburb, the manager opened the gate of his detention center housing migrants from sub-Saharan countries such as Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and some Arab countries. Everyone stayed, surviving on one meal of pasta a day. On good day they get two.

Large parts of Libya have been lawless since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and the country has become the main transit point for hundreds of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East attempting the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Officials have been accused in the past of mistreating detainees who are held by the thousands as part of European-backed efforts to curb smuggling.

At the Tajoura detention center, authorities have not supplied any food or water since before fighting started last week, said Nour Eldine Qarilti, the director.

“We have not received any assistance from all international organizations,” he told Reuters. “Some local NGOs still support us with simple needs but it’s not enough.”

Hundreds of migrants lay on mattresses. Others were using a kitchen to cook lunch for others for a small fee.

According the United Nations, Libya is now hosting more than 700,000 people who have fled their homelands, often trekking through desert in pursuit of their dream of crossing to a better life in Europe.

They then try find smugglers to put them on boats. But with Italy and France helping to beef up the Libyan Coast Guard, most now get caught before reaching Europe.

(Writing by Ahmed Elumami and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Peter Graff)

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FILE PHOTO: A tugboat escorts French Navy frigate Vendemiaire on arrival for a goodwill visit at a port in Metro Manila
FILE PHOTO: Tugboat escorts French Navy frigate Vendemiaire on arrival for a 5-day goodwill visit at a port in Metro Manila, Philippines March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco/File Photo

April 24, 2019

By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A French warship passed through the strategic Taiwan Strait this month, U.S. officials told Reuters, a rare voyage by a vessel of a European country that is likely to be welcomed by Washington but increase tensions with Beijing.

The passage is a sign that U.S. allies are increasingly asserting freedom of navigation in international waterways near China. It could open the door for other allies, such as Japan and Australia, to consider similar operations.

The French operation comes amid increasing tensions between the United States and China. Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom of navigation patrols.

Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a French military vessel carried out the transit in the narrow waterway between China and Taiwan on April 6.

One of the officials identified the warship as the French frigate Vendemiaire and said it was shadowed by the Chinese military. The official was not aware of any previous French military passage through the Taiwan Strait.

The officials said that as a result of the passage, China notified France it was no longer invited to a naval parade to mark the 70 years since the founding of China’s Navy. Warships from India, Australia and several other nations participated.

Colonel Patrik Steiger, the spokesman for France’s military chief of staff, declined to comment on an operational mission.

The U.S. officials did not speculate on the purpose of the passage or whether it was designed to assert freedom of navigation.

MOUNTING TENSIONS

The French strait passage comes against the backdrop of increasingly regular passages by U.S. warships through the strategic waterway. Last month the United States sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait.

The passages upset China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory. Beijing has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island.

Chen Chung-chi, spokesman for Taiwan’s defense ministry, told Reuters by phone the strait is part of busy international waters and it is “a necessity” for vessels from all countries to transit through it. He said Taiwan’s defense ministry will continue to monitor movement of foreign vessels in the region.

There was no immediate comment from China’s foreign or defense ministries.

“This is an important development both because of the transit itself but also because it reflects a more geopolitical approach by France towards China and the broader Asia Pacific,” said Abraham Denmark, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia.

The transit is a sign that countries like France are not only looking at China through the lens of trade but from a military standpoint as well, Denmark said.

Last month France and China signed deals worth billions of euros during a visit to Paris by Chinese President Xi Jinping. French President Emmanuel Macron wants to forge a united European front to confront Chinese advances in trade and technology.

“It is important to have other countries operating in Asia to demonstrate that this is just not a matter of competition between Washington and Beijing, that what China has been doing represents a broader challenge to a liberal international order,” Denmark, who is currently with the Woodrow Wilson Center think-tank in Washington, added.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the democratically ruled island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart in Washington; Additional reporting by Sophie Louet in Paris, Yimou Lee in Taipei and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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A Venezuelan military deserter of the National Guard, who doesn't want to be identified, is seen in the border city of Pacaraima
A Venezuelan military deserter of the National Guard, who doesn’t want to be identified, is seen in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

April 24, 2019

By Anthony Boadle

PACARAIMA, Brazil (Reuters) – Venezuelan military personnel are deserting to Colombia and Brazil in growing numbers, refusing to follow orders to repress protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, six of them told Reuters.

A lieutenant and five sergeants of the National Guard, the main force used by the Maduro government to suppress widespread demonstrations, said the bulk were going to Colombia, the most accessible border, but others like themselves had left for Brazil.

Colombian immigration authorities said some 1,400 Venezuelan military had deserted for Colombia this year, while the Brazilian Army said over 60 members of Venezuela’s armed forces had emigrated to Brazil since Maduro closed the border on Feb. 23 to block an opposition effort to get humanitarian aid into the country.

“Most military people that are leaving are from the National Guard. They will continue coming. More want to leave,” said a National Guard lieutenant, speaking earlier this month. She had just crossed into Brazil on foot, arriving in the frontier town of Pacaraima after walking hours along indigenous trails through savannah.

Officials in both countries said the pace of desertion has sped up in recent months as political and economic turmoil in Venezuela has worsened.

The deserters, who asked to withhold their names due to fear of reprisals against their families, complained that top commanders in Venezuela lived well on large salaries and commissions from smuggling and other black market schemes while the lower ranks confronted conflicts in Venezuela’s streets for little pay.

“They already have their families living abroad. They live well, eat well, have good salaries and profits from corruption,” said the lieutenant.

The Venezuelan government’s Information Ministry, which handles all media inquiries, did not reply to requests for comment for this story.

In February, Maduro’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, told a Security Council meeting the number of military desertions had been exaggerated. Foreign ministry spokesman William Castillo said at the time that just 109 of the 280,000-strong armed forces had deserted under Maduro.

A Venezuelan sergeant, who proudly donned his National Guard uniform for an interview in a hotel room in Pacaraima, said he could not provide for his two small sons on his $12-a-month salary.

“We risked our lives so much for the little we were paid,” he said. “I left because of this and the bad orders the commanding officers were giving us.”

The head of Venezuela’s opposition-led congress, Juan Guaido, backed by most Western nations, is trying to oust Maduro on the basis that the socialist president’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.

But top armed forces commanders have remained loyal to Maduro because they earn well in dollars and have too much to lose by abandoning him, according to the National Guard deserters.

Maduro has placed military chiefs in high-level jobs running state companies so they do not turn against him, the sergeant said.

“Maduro knows that if he removes them from those posts, the military will turn their backs on him and could oust him in a coup,” he said.

Maduro has called Guaido a U.S. puppet trying to foment a coup, and blames the country’s economic problems on U.S. sanctions.

INMATES IN UNIFORM

Rebellion in the middle ranks of the National Guard has been contained by intimidation and threats of reprisals against officers’ families, the deserters told Reuters. They said phones of military personnel suspected of anti-Maduro sympathies were tapped to watch their behavior.

With desertions on the rise and dwindling support for Maduro, the government has used armed groups of civilians known as “colectivos” to terrorize Maduro opponents, the interviewees said. Rights groups in Venezuela have warned of rising violence meted out by the militant groups.

The government has also released jail inmates and put them in National Guard uniforms, to the disgust of soldiers with years of military career behind them, the six deserters said. It is unclear if the former inmates or militants are paid by the government.

A lack of food, water and medicines, along with extended blackouts, have added to a sense of anarchy, the deserters said.

The uniformed sergeant said he feared bloodshed at the hands of the “colectivos” trying to keep Maduro in power if the armed forces balked at government orders to repress protests.

“There won’t be enough soldiers left with hearts of stone to fire on the people,” he said. “We military know that among the crowds on the streets there are relatives of ours protesting for freedom and a better future for Venezuela.”

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Leonardo Benassatto and Pilar Olivares, Additional reporting by Helen Murphy in Bogota and Vivian Sequera in Caracas, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s attempts to raise the alarm about Russian interference in American elections was thwarted by White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who told her not to bring up the subject with President Donald Trump, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Mulvaney made it clear that Trump viewed any public talk of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory and thus did not want the subject discussed.

Even though the Department of Homeland Security has the main responsibility for civilian cyberdefense and Nielsen was extremely concerned about Russia’s interference in the 2018 midterm elections and future ones, she gave up on attempts to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections due to Trump’s attitude.

Nielsen’s frustrations were described to the Times by three senior administration officials and a former one, with the White House refusing to provide comment.

The opening page of the Worldwide Threat Assessment, which was compiled by government intelligence agencies and delivered to Congress earlier this year, warned that “Russia’s social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians” and that Moscow may increase its tactis “in a more targeted fashion to influence U.S. policy, actions and elections.”

Nielsen grew so frustrated with Trump’s refusal to discuss an overall strategy that she twice held her own top-level meetings on the subject.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied that the administration sidestepped the topic, saying “I don’t think there’s been a discussion between a senior U.S. official and Russians in this administration where we have not raised this issue.”

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Source: NewsMax Politics

A trader speaks to a floor official on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: A trader speaks to a floor official on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

April 24, 2019

By Sruthi Shankar and Amy Caren Daniel

(Reuters) – Wall Street was set to open flat on Wednesday after a record-setting rally in the previous session, as investors assessed quarterly reports from industrial bellwethers Boeing and Caterpillar.

Boeing Co shares gained 1.5% in premarket trading even as the planemaker suspended its 2019 outlook and reported quarterly revenue below Wall Street estimates due to grounding of its 737 MAX jets. Its stock has lost 11.5% since the deadly Ethiopian crash in early March.

Caterpillar Inc fell 2.6%. The company topped analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit but posted a 4% decline in construction revenue in Asia-Pacific, one of its key markets dominated by China.

“Thus far you’ve had pretty strong reactions to earnings and investor sentiment is nervously positive,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

“The nervousness has to do with valuations and the concern being, ‘Am I going to get good enough results and guidance to justify the markets going higher?’”

The main indexes are holding within a hair’s breadth of all-time highs after a rally this year, sparked by a dovish Federal Reserve, hopes of a U.S.-China trade resolution and an upbeat earnings season.

The benchmark S&P 500 index is just 0.25% away from its intra-day record high of 2,940.91 hit on Sept. 21.

About a third of the S&P 500 companies are expected to report this week, determining if investors should be concerned about the start of an earnings recession or whether back-to-back quarters of negative growth can be avoided.

Profits of S&P 500 companies are expected to decline 1.1% for the quarter, according to Refinitv data. However, 77.5% of the 129 companies that have reported so far have surpassed earnings estimates.

At 8:39 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 15 points, or 0.06%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1 points, or 0.03% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 1.25 points, or 0.02%.

Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc, set to report after the closing bell on Wednesday, were up more than 0.5%.

EBay Inc shares jumped 3.6% after the company raised its full-year sales and profit forecasts.

AT&T Inc shares declined 2.5% after the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier reported quarterly revenue below Wall Street estimates.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp shares jumped 11.4% after Occidental Petroleum Corp sought to scuttle Chevron Corp’s takeover of the company with a $57 billion bid. Occidental’s shares fell 5.2%.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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ESL One - Dota 2 Major
FILE PHOTO: Esports – ESL One – Dota 2 Major – Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, Britain – May 26, 2018 General view as fans watch on Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes

April 24, 2019

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – From snack companies to carmakers, a wide range of brands is trying to reach one of the hottest demographic groups around: esports fans.

Those brands are finding their footing with 39 percent of brand exposure in esports’ competitive video game broadcasts coming from non-gaming related companies in 2018, Nielsen said in a report on Wednesday.

“Over all forms of entertainment, their biggest passion is video games,” Nicole Pike, Managing Director of Nielsen Esports, said of enthusiasts of professional video gaming.

Such companies are called “non-endemic” since they are not as naturally aligned with esports as those that manufacture gaming computers, consoles, chairs and other gear, for instance.

The list of non-endemic brands in the sector and already includes State Farm, Disney, Spotify, Toyota, Mastercard, Cheez-It, Hershey, Chipotle, Sephora , Wendy’s and Head & Shoulders, and is getting longer.

Viewership of esports – when fans watch in person or online as professional video game players compete – is expanding.

The bulk of fans are typically between 18 and 35 years old, referred to in the Nielsen report by esports sponsor Doritos as “emerging adults.”

They have more disposable income than other sports fans and many have cut the cord to traditional media.

In fact, 61 percent of esports viewers on Twitch, a main platform for watching esports streams, do not watch television on a weekly basis, according to Nielsen, making traditional forms of marketing a challenge.

Reaching out through esports does seem to work, since 90 percent of Twitch’s esports viewers can name at least one non-endemic sponsor, Nielsen found.

Brands seen as authentically interested in the space fare better than those that just slap their logo on a jersey, advertising and esports experts say.

PepsiCo’s Doritos, for instance, sponsored a “Doritos Bowl” hosted by Twitch for a Call of Duty battle royale tournament between top streamers.

Fans watched nearly 550,000 combined hours of that tournament, Nielsen said.

When 20th Century Fox wanted to promote the digital release of its movie “Deadpool 2 Super Duper Cut,” it turned to the gaming advertising and talent agency Ader.

Ader partnered with top Fortnite influencer DrLupo and also created new custom designed Deadpool “emotes” – essentially emoji characters – that viewers use in Twitch chat windows.

An influx of non-endemic brands also adds credibility to the evolving esports ecoystem, said Chad De Luca, head of gaming and esports at Publicis Sport & Entertainment.

“It is a mark of approval from a blue-chip company,” he said.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ, editing by G Crosse)

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A person in an Easter Bunny costume looks on as U.S. President Trump attends the 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington
A person in an Easter Bunny costume looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump attends the 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, U.S., April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

April 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s main eavesdropping agency on Wednesday said allegations that it had been asked by the Obama administration to spy on Donald Trump after the 2016 presidential election were utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.

Trump on Wednesday tweeted that a former CIA analyst, Larry Johnson, had accused Britain of spying on the Trump campaign. Trump said: “It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!”

When asked about the tweet, a GCHQ spokesman said: “The allegations that GCHQ was asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Paul Sandle)

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FILE PHOTO: Romanian Prime Minister Dancila attends a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg
FILE PHOTO: Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila attends a debate on the priorities of the Romanian presidency of the E.U. for the next six months, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

April 24, 2019

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s lower house of parliament approved changes to the criminal codes on Wednesday that could shut down several ongoing high-level graft cases, but opposition politicians plan to challenge the bills at the Constitutional Court.

The bills are the latest in a series of legal and personnel changes made by the ruling Social Democrats since they came to power in 2017 that are seen as threats to judicial independence and have raised concerns in the European Union, the U.S. State Department and among thousands of Romanian magistrates.

One of the changes approved on Wednesday shortens the statute of limitations covering some offences, a move that would automatically shut down a number of ongoing cases. Other amendments include lower sentences for some offences and decriminalizing negligence in the workplace.

“Romania today becomes a state in which criminals are basically in a legal haven, encouraged … by changes that overall ease and simplify the impact of the law on criminals,” opposition Save Romania Union leader Dan Barna told reporters.

Barna’s party and the main opposition Liberals both said they would challenge the changes at the Constitutional Court.

Social Democrat lawmakers initially overhauled Romania’s criminal codes last year. The European Commission said the proposed changes were a reversal of a decade of democratic and market reforms in the former communist country.

The Constitutional Court struck down many of the changes following challenges by opposition lawmakers. On Wednesday, the ruling coalition approved the codes after removing the articles already struck down by the Court.

Prosecutors have secured a spate of convictions in recent years against lawmakers, ministers and mayors, including Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea. Their investigations have exposed conflicts of interest, abuse of power, fraud and awarding of state contracts in exchange for bribes.

Dragnea, who has a suspended jail term in a vote-rigging case and an ongoing appeal against a second conviction for inciting others to commit abuse of office, could be among the politicians to benefit from the changes.

The Social Democrats have said their legal initiatives are aimed at aligning legislation with EU norms and address abuses allegedly committed by magistrates.

Transparency International ranks Romania, which currently holds the EU’s rotating six-month presidency, among the bloc’s most corrupt states.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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FILE PHOTO: View of cranes at the container terminal at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah
FILE PHOTO: A view of cranes at the container terminal at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo

April 24, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister on Wednesday blamed Yemen’s Houthi movement for a stalled peace deal in the main port of Hodeidah, saying the Iran-aligned group was ignoring the kingdom’s call for a political solution to the four-year war.

Saudi Arabia is leading a Western-backed Sunni Muslim military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which was ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.

“They are ignoring our calls for a political solution to this crisis,” Prince Khalid bin Salman said at a security conference in Moscow, in his first comments on Yemen since becoming deputy defense minister in February.

The warring parties reached a deal at U.N.-sponsored talks in Sweden in December for a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of people.

The Houthis say they are ready to implement the Hodeidah deal, but that the other side is obstructing it.

The truce has largely held but the redeployment of forces has stalled with each side blaming the other for impeding the pact, the first major breakthrough in peace efforts in over four years aimed at paving the way for political negotiations.

Prince Khalid, a son of King Salman and a full younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, accused regional rival Iran of trying “to seize the Yemeni state” by supporting the Houthis, who control Hodeidah and most urban centers in Yemen.

The Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say their revolution is against corruption.

The conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation to the brink of famine, is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its arch foe Shi’ite Muslim Iran.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a database tracking violence in Yemen, last week said around 70,000 people have been reported killed since the start of 2016.

Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to the alliance, have increased pressure on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to end the conflict following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October at the hands of Saudi agents at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

(Writing by Lisa Barrington; Additional reporting by Tuqa Khalid; Editing by Alison Williams)

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