Yemen's Huthis only ones who can end war: Saudi FM

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A Shiite-Huthi supporter stands on a wall next to a Yemeni flag during a protest in the capital Sanaa on October 2, 2015

A Shiite-Huthi supporter stands on a wall next to a Yemeni flag during a protest in the capital Sanaa on October 2, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais)

Riyadh (AFP) - Huthi rebels and their allies in Yemen are the only ones who can bring an end to the seven-month-old war there, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

"I believe that the matter of the end of hostilities lies entirely with the Huthis and with Saleh," Adel al-Jubeir said, referring to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"They are the ones who started this, and they are the ones who continue this," he told a joint news conference with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

The Iran-backed Huthis overran Yemen's capital Sanaa unopposed in September last year and went on to seize territory as far south as Aden, aided by renegade troops loyal to Saleh.

Their advance prompted Saudi Arabia in March to form an Arab coalition which began air strikes and assistance to Yemeni forces on the ground.

Bolstered by heavy weaponry and Gulf troops as well as Yemeni fighters trained in Saudi Arabia, the anti-rebel fighters since July have retaken Aden as well as four other southern provinces.

The United Nations estimates that about 5,000 people, many of them civilians, have been killed in the war.

Saleh's party last week said it had accepted a United Nations plan to end the fighting.

According to the plan, Saleh's General People's Congress party would accept UN Security Council Resolution 2216 under an "implementation mechanism that would be agreed on by all parties" in Yemen, the party said.

Resolution 2216 calls for the withdrawal of rebel forces from territories they have captured and for them to lay down their arms.

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has been holding secret talks with Saleh's GPC and Huthi representatives in neutral Yemen.

In September, coalition-supported forces began a major offensive east of Sanaa as the internationally backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi pulled out of UN-brokered peace talks.

The government said it would not attend the talks unless the rebels first accepted Resolution 2216.

"The coalition has achieved success in reversing the gains by Huthi-Saleh forces in Yemen," and now is the time for a political process to begin based on Resolution 2216, Jubeir said.

Fabius said France supported efforts towards a political solution but needed "all parties" to agree to talks.

Fabius was in Riyadh with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, on the third high-level French mission to the kingdom this year.