Yemen's Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels have agreed to exchange hundreds of prisoners ahead of planned peace talks in Sweden, sources said Tuesday.

The deal, struck during a visit by U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths, covers between 1,500 and 2,000 members of the pro-government forces and between 1,000 and 1,500 rebels, government official Hadi Haig told AFP.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it "welcomes the agreement between Yemeni parties for the release, transfer and repatriation of conflict-related detainees."

"This is one step in the right direction towards the building of mutual trust among Yemeni communities," spokeswoman Mirella Hodeib told AFP, adding that the ICRC would oversee and facilitate the exchange.

The Arab coalition has been waging a war in Yemen since March 2015 to push back the Iran-backed Houthis and restore to power President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi, who lives in Saudi exile.

The U.N. hopes to bring the two sides together for peace talks this month.

According to Hadi Haig, the prisoner swap will be implemented after the round of negotiations in Sweden.

On Monday a U.N. charter flight evacuated 50 wounded Houthi rebel fighters for treatment in Oman -- a key rebel precondition for the talks.

Source: National News Agency

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