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DUBAI, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - The UAE, a key player in the coalition battling Huthi rebels in Yemen, on Monday warned the insurgents to withdraw unconditionally from the flashpoint port city of Hodeida, after UN peace efforts fizzled.

"There can be no conditions in any offers to withdraw," the United Arab Emirates' minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash told a press conference in Dubai.

"If the rebels wanted to set conditions, they should have thought of that a year ago... Now is not the time to negotiate."

Huthi rebels have controlled Hodeida, a key entry point for desperately-needed aid, since 2014, when they drove the government out of the capital Sanaa and seized large swathes of the country.

Gargash's statement came hours before the UN's top Yemen envoy, Martin Griffiths, was due to brief the Security Council on his efforts to end the crisis over Hodeida, whose port handles over 70 percent of Yemen's imports.

Gargash said the Saudi and UAE-led offensive aimed "to help the UN envoy in his last chance to convince the Huthis to withdraw unconditionally from the city and avoid any confrontation."

NEW YORK, June 18, 2018 (MENA) - The UN Security Council (UNSC) will convene a closed meeting later Monday to discuss developments in Yemen.

During the meeting, UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths will post UNSC members on his comprehensive plan to achieve peace in Yemen.

Al Arabiya al Hadath, meanwhile, quoted UN sources as having said that no progress was made during Griffiths' talks with Houthi militias about Hodeidah.

Houthi leaders would not withdraw from Hodeidah Port and hand it over to UN supervision, according to the sources.

They demanded more time to study Griffiths' proposal, the sources added.

ADEN, June 17, 2018 (MENA) – The Yemeni army repelled on Sunday a Houthi militia attack against its sites in southern Taiz city.

The militiamen tried to infiltrate into the Yemeni army outposts under fire and snipers coverage.

The Yemeni army forced them into retreating after fierce clashes that lasted for several hours.

Five civilians were injured by the Houthi snipers, while three militants were captured.

VATICAN, June 17, 2018 (MENA) - Pope Francis is pressing for negotiations involving the sides in the Yemen conflict so the humanitarian crisis does not worsen.

In public remarks, Francis said he was following "with worry the dramatic fate of the people of Yemen, already so exhausted from years of conflict", according to Fox News on Sunday.

He appealed to the international community so that "no effort be spared to urgently bring to the negotiating table the sides in conflict and to avoid a worsening of the already tragic humanitarian situation".

ADEN, June 17, 2018 (MENA) - Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi received on Sunday military leaders of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.

During the meeting, Hadi hailed the patriotic stances of the military leaders, pointing out to their sacrifices for the sake of preserving the nation's identity, according to Yemen News Agency.

These sacrifices will be always appreciated by the Yemenis and throughout the coming generations, the president asserted.

For their part, the leaders expressed their honour to serve their second homeland.

ADEN June 17, 2018 (MENA) - Yemeni troops, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, have advanced in eastern Hodeidah to main roads leading to the capital Sana'a and Taiz, a military source told Sputnik news agency.

The regime military and the Arab coalition have recently launched a massive military offensive to retake the Houthi-controlled port city. They have already controlled the airport of the city.

The offensive will give the the national army and the coalition the upper hand in the war, with the expected retake of the Red Sea port will cut off the main gate of supplies for the Houthi rebels.

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