An armed man loyal to the Houthi movement holds his weapon as he gathers to protest against the Saudi-backed exiled government deciding to cut off the Yemeni central bank from the outside world, in the capital Sanaa, Yemen August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday he had agreed in talks with Gulf Arab states and the United Nations in Saudi Arabia on a plan to restart peace talks Yemen with a goal of forming a unity government.

Speaking at a press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir in the Saudi city of Jeddah, Kerry said the 18 month conflict in which the kingdom has launched thousands of air strikes in favour of the exiled government had gone on too long and needed to end.

Kerry said Yemen’s dominant Houthi group must cease its shelling across the border with Saudi Arabia, cede its weapons and enter into a unity government with its domestic foes.

“We agreed on a renewed approach to negotiations with both a security and political track simultaneously working in order to provide a comprehensive settlement,” Kerry said.

“The final agreement … would include in the first phase a swift formation of a new national unity government, the withdrawal of forces from (the capital) Sanaa and other areas and the transfer of all heavy weapons including ballistic missiles, from the Houthis and forces aligned to them to a third party.”

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