DUBAI/TEHRAN: Iran's deputy foreign minister said he was optimistic that a ceasefire in Yemen would be announced later on Tuesday, in a sign diplomatic efforts may be underway to stop almost a month of Saudi-led bombing of Yemen's Houthi group.
Iran has repeatedly called for a halt to an almost month-long campaign of air strikes by Saudi Arabia and Arab allies, but members of the coalition and their Western backers have so far rejected Iran's proposals, accusing it of supporting the Houthis.
"We are optimistic that in the coming hours, after many efforts, we will see a halt to military attacks in Yemen," Hossein Amir Abdollahian was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.
Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Arab countries in a bombing campaign against the Houthis and allied military units loyal to the powerful former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who have taken swathes of territory and forced Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile.
"Iranian proposals are not being addressed at the moment," one Yemeni official said on condition of anonymity.
Another Yemeni official said representatives of Saleh's party had made peace proposals to the government in exile but suggested the rebel forces would have to meet further conditions before the government would accept.
"There are contacts and initiatives for a ceasefire, mostly presented by leaders in the former president's party," the official told Reuters.
"But any initiative will not be accepted unless the Houthis and Saleh announced their commitment to implement the U.N. Security Council Resolution, particularly the immediate stop to attacks on Aden and the withdrawal from it," the official added, referring to a decision reached by the United Nations last week.
Know more: UNSC imposes arms embargo on Houthi rebels.
The Houthis flatly rejected the contents of the resolution, which imposed an arms embargo on Houthi leaders and Saleh's son, recognised Hadi as Yemen's president and called for the withdrawal of the militia from the capital Sanaa and from the southern city of Aden.
Yemen strikes show Saudi 'mental imbalance'
Earlier today, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had said a Saudi-led offensive in Yemen was prompted by the kingdom's failures elsewhere, causing what he called a "mental imbalance".
Speaking to reporters Tuesday before heading to Indonesia, Rouhani mocked Saudi Arabia by calling it a country with dashed dreams in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
"All the failures have accumulated and caused mental and emotional imbalance for that country," Rouhani said.
Iran has long accused Saudi Arabia of supporting militants, including the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, Saudis accuse Iran of supporting Yemen's Shia Houthi rebels who overran the capital and later forced the country's Western-backed president into exile.
Tehran and the rebels deny any military links, though the Islamic Republic has provided political and humanitarian support to the group.
Clashes between rebels and pro-government forces and Saudi-led air strikes killed at least 85 people in Yemen last week.
The United Nations says hundreds of people have died and thousands of families have fled their homes since the coalition air war began on March 26 at the request of embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
The UN agency for refugees says that up to 150,000 people have been displaced over the past three weeks, while more than 300,000 had already fled their homes because of unrest in past years.
Last month, the Kingdom and its allies launched air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters, who have tightened their grip in southern city of Aden where the country's president had taken refuge, the Saudi envoy to Washington had said.
The kingdom's ambassador to the United States announced from Washington last month that a coalition of 10 countries, including the five Gulf monarchies, had been set up to protect the Yemeni government.