A member of the Yemeni pro-government forces in the city of Hodeida. Photo: AFP

Yemen’s Huthi rebels have agreed to hold talks on the United Nations playing a “leading role” in running the lifeline port in the war-ravaged city of Hodeida, A UN envoy said Friday.

Martin Griffiths, who began a Yemen peace mission in rebel-held Sanaa on Wednesday, said he has discussed with rebel officials “how the UN could contribute to keeping the peace” in Hodeida.

“I am here to tell you today that we have agreed that the UN should now pursue actively and urgently detailed negotiations for a leading UN role in the port and more broadly,” he told reporters during his first visit to Hodeida.

The envoy asked Yemen’s warring parties to “keep the peace” in the port city.

“The attention of the world is on Hodeida. Leaders from every country have called for us all to keep the peace in Hodeida,” he said.

Griffiths was visiting the Arab republic ahead of planned peace negotiations in Sweden in December between the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels and pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

Both sides say they support the envoy’s mission to hold talks to end a conflict that has pushed the country to the brink of famine.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s conflict, but some rights groups believe the figure could be five times higher.

– With reporting from Agence France-Presse