Al Mukalla: Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Monday urged Al Houthis to offer trust-building measures including halting hostilities, releasing political prisoners and lifting their siege on Taiz as to pave the way for success of peace talks in Kuwait.

In his meeting with the GCC Secretary General, Abdul Latif Al Zayani in the Saudi capital, Hadi said: “We went to [peace talks] with good intentions in order to stop the bloodshed and save our people and nation from further suffering and destruction.”

On Sunday, Al Houthis and their armed allies seized a military base north of Sana’a, dealing a setback to a shaky ceasefire and peace talks in Kuwait aimed at ending a year-long war.

Yemen’s government suspended its participation in “direct” talks with the Iran-backed militants in protest at their takeover of a military base in the war-torn country despite a ceasefire, officials said.

But government representatives will remain in Kuwait where they will continue to take part in indirect talks through UN mediator Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad, delegates said.

On Saturday, Yemen’s warring parties held their first face-to-face talks since the negotiations opened in Kuwait on April 21.

The UN envoy said these direct talks were “productive” and had touched on key issues.

But later Saturday, Al Houthis and their allies overran Al Amaliqa base in northern Yemen after hours of clashes, tribal and military sources said, adding that the fighting caused casualties.

“The attack against Al Amaliqa brigade torpedoes the peace consultations in Kuwait,” Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Malek Al Mekhlafi, who heads his government’s delegation in Kuwait, said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, military officials and tribal leaders backing Yemen’s legitimate government said on Monday that as many as 70 Al Houthis militants and 20 loyalists fighters have been killed in fierce clashes outside the capital since the beginning of peace talks in Kuwait last months.

Abdullah Al Shandaqi, a spokesperson for Sana’a resistance, told Gulf News on Monday that the government forces have repelled many attacks by Al Houthis and their allied forces to recapture strategic locations in the Nehim district on the outskirts of Sana’a.

“They have repeatedly attacked our positions since the start of the ceasefire. We have received orders from our leadership to honour the ceasefire. We are ready to advance into the capital if peace talks in Kuwait crumbled,” he said.

Al Shandaqi denied Al Houthi claims that Saudi-led coalition warplanes are continuing strikes.

“The warplanes have halted air strikes since April 10, when the ceasefire began,” he stated.

In February, government forces edged closer towards the capital and captured an important military camp outside Sana’a.

In the besieged city of Taiz, another volatile battlefield, local medics and activists said on Sunday that a government fighter and a civilian were killed and at least a dozen injured from indiscriminate Al Houthi shelling of many districts in the densely populated city.

The southern city of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest, has been experiencing abhorrent humanitarian conditions since early last year when Iran-backed Al Houthi militants imposed a siege to weaken resistance fighters.