Yemeni spokesman says rebels seek to ignite Hodeida fighting

Yemeni government spokesman: Rebels' refusal to withdraw from key port city amount to 'declaration of war'

CAIRO -- A spokesman for Yemen's internationally recognized government says recent comments by the country's rebels that they won't give up the key port city of Hodeida, the focus of months of U.N.-brokered talks with the government, amounted to a "declaration of war."

Rajeh Badi said at a press conference on Wednesday that such remarks risk igniting vicious fighting once again in Hodeida, a key entry point for international aid to the war-torn country. He also said they violate a tentative peace agreement reached by the two sides in Sweden late last year.

Senior rebel leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi told The Associated Press earlier this week that the Saudi-led coalition, which back's Yemen's government, is trying to change the terms of the agreement and that a rebel withdrawal would therefore be "impossible."