The Yemeni internationally recognized government on Tuesday criticized Jeremy Hunt's remarks on Hodeida during his Sunday visit to the Yemeni southern port city of Aden, seat of Hadi's government.
The British Foreign Secretary's statements were in contrast with points agreed in Stockholm and even with discussions held at his recent visit, the Yemeni foreign ministry said in a release.
While reminding that "all the Yemeni laws and international resolutions and stances maintain the sole right of the government to manage the Yemeni state's affairs and to dominate all national soil, the government stresses that Hodeida is but Yemeni land that must be subject to the Yemeni state and effective laws," said the release carried by the Aden-based Saba News Agency.
The local authority in Hodeida should be undertaken by security forces according to the Yemeni law, added the release, as decided in the Sweden pact. "Talk about neutral authority not governed by the legitimate authority is odd construal totally far away from the Agreement's connotation and text."
At his visit to Aden, the British Foreign Secretary called upon warring parties in Yemen to rabidly implement the UN-brokered agreement they reached at peace talks last December in Sweden.
"We are now in the last chance saloon for the Stockholm peace process," said Hunt. More than 80 days have passed since the Sweden Agreement, but still unapplied by two sides. "Hodeida port had to be cleared from militias and forces and to become under neutral control by January. The process could be dead within weeks if we do not see both sides sticking to their commitments in Stockholm."
The Yemeni government, however, claimed that the British FM said "Houthi coup group occupies Hodeida. Therefore, the duty of the international law and community is to work on fulfilling the pact, but not to make it null and void or to seek inapplicable solutions."
"Any other arrangements before ensuring the implementation of Stockholm Agreement would be premature and should be connected to the end of coup," said the release. "The government has made many concessions in order for the deal to be applied, but some of what is now proposed is beyond possible concessions - they are impossible options jeopardizing the whole peace process."
Yemen has been racked by an armed conflict that broke out after the Iranian-backed Houthis had ousted the internationally recognized government late in 2014.
The conflict escalated after a Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in the country in March 2015 to reinstate the government of President Hadi, triggering the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.
Parties to the nearly 4-year war in Yemen, after 8 days of peace talks in Sweden, agreed on the 13th of last December to cease fire in Hodeida, to withdraw all their forces from the ports of Hodeida, Salif and Ras Isa, to swap prisoners and to alleviate siege on Taiz.
But this has yet to take place, with both sides trading blames for trying to thwart the deal.
The port city of Hodeida has been under Houthi control since late 2014, while Yemeni joint forces loyal to legitimate government and Arab coalition have massed at the city's fringes seeking to retake the strategic port.
Yemeni government's criticism comes one day after Houthis slamming the same Hunt's remarks.
"Stockholm Agreement by no means indicates the presence of neutral bodies, neither in Hodeida nor in other" area, Houthi spokesman said on Monday.
The pact provides for redeployment be conducted by all parties, and to call on one, but not the other, party to withdraw "is not only partiality but also lying and deception," Mohammed Abdul Salam added on Facebook.
Houthis have accepted a "UN monitoring role in Hodeida port to end pretexts by other party, but not to hand it over to the aggressor."
"Martin Griffiths seems to be an envoy of England not the UN, particularly after the British FO has explained its goals and stances, in harmony with the deal's obstruction," Houthi senior negotiator added.
Britain is trying to have a hand in bringing about a solution to a war that has left most of the population in need for a type of humanitarian aid and immediate protection, including 8.4 million people unsure how to get next meal, and some 2 million children suffering severe shortage of nutrition.