Yemen ceasefire to be extended by week: govt negotiator

Armed Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, hold a position in the area of Sirwah, west of Marib city, on December 18, 2015 (AFP Photo/Abdullah al-Qadry)

Bern (Switzerland) (AFP) - Yemen's much-violated ceasefire will be extended for seven days after it officially expires Monday, the head of the government negotiation team said Sunday at UN-brokered talks in Switzerland.

"The truce will be extended for seven more days and will then be automatically extended if it is respected by the other party," Foreign Minister Abdel Malak al-Mekhlafi told reporters in Bern, referring to the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The decision, at the request of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, was communicated to the United Nations, Mekhlafi said, noting that its automatic renewal had been part of the rebels' commitment to respect Security Council Resolution 2216.

The resolution, adopted in April, calls on the rebels and their allies, army units who still back former president Ali Abdallah Saleh, to withdraw from territory captured last year including the capital Sanaa, and to lay down their weapons.

Mekhlafi, who led the government delegation to six days of peace talks in Bern that wrapped up with no major breakthrough on Sunday, also called for the release of five prisoners held by the Huthis including Defence Minister Major-General Mahmoud al-Subaihi.