Eritrea sent more than 200 prisoners of war home to Yemen on Saturday, hoping the goodwill gesture would speed negotiations for a peaceful resolution to a dispute over three Red Sea islands.
About 195 Yemeni soldiers and 17 civilians returned to San’a aboard Red Cross-chartered flights. The prisoners included a senior officer, military sources told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Eritrea said it set no conditions for Saturday’s release of all Yemenis taken captive when Eritrea seized Greater Hanish on Dec. 16-17.
Yemen and Eritrea both claim ownership of the island and two others astride major shipping lanes 100 miles north of the Bab el-Mandeb, the strait that marks the entrance to the Red Sea.
Eritrea now controls Greater Hanish, and Yemen controls Lesser Hanish and Zuqar. Eritrea refuses to withdraw from Greater Hanish unless Yemen pulls its forces.
“The negotiations are going on. There has been progress in the negotiations but there is no final agreement,” Yemane Ghebremeskes, an aide to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki, said.