Saudi Arabia on Wednesday praised the “positive results” of talks with Yemen’s Houthi rebels after they visited the kingdom for peace talks, although Riyadh released few details on their negotiations to end the war against the Arab world’s poorest country .

Issued on: September 20, 2023 – 04:51

3 minutes

The five-day talks, which marked the highest level of public negotiations with the Houthis in the kingdom, come as Saudi Arabia makes a renewed attempt to end the years-long coalition war it launched against Yemen.

That conflict was embroiled in a broader regional proxy war the kingdom faced against its long-time regional rival Iran, with whom it reached a détente earlier this year.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry, in a statement early Wednesday marking the end of the Houthis’ trip, welcomed “the positive results of serious discussions on developing a roadmap to support the path to peace in Yemen.”

“The Kingdom continues to stand with Yemen and its brotherly people and … encourages the Yemeni parties to come to the negotiating table to achieve a comprehensive and lasting political solution in Yemen under the supervision of the United Nations,” it said it in the statement.

During their visit, the Houthi delegation even met with Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, the brother of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In a social media post, Prince Khalid referred to those who visited him as a “Sanaa delegation,” using neither the Houthis nor the rebel group’s official name, Ansar Allah.

“I emphasized the Kingdom’s support for Yemen and reaffirmed our commitment to promoting dialogue between all parties to reach a comprehensive political solution under UN supervision,” Prince Khalid said.

Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the Houthi’s chief negotiator, wrote online that the rebels “held extensive meetings with the Saudi side where we discussed some options and alternatives to overcome differences raised in previous rounds.”

“We will present them to the leadership for consultation in a way that will help accelerate the payment of salaries and address the problems of the humanitarian situation suffered by our Yemeni people, leading to a just, comprehensive and sustainable solution “leads,” said Abdul-Salam.

The Houthis have long demanded that the Saudi-led coalition pay the salaries of all government employees it controls – including its armed forces – from Yemen’s oil and gas revenues and open all airports and ports under Houthi control as part of a peace deal .

The rebel-controlled SABA news agency confirmed the delegation’s return to Sanaa, without providing further details about the talks.

Officials at the United Nations, which is currently hosting the annual General Assembly in New York attended by world leaders, did not immediately comment on the Saudi comments.

A joint statement by the United States and the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a six-member Gulf Arab bloc led by Riyadh, praised “Saudi Arabia’s sustained efforts to promote Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue.”

“The ministers also emphasized their support for an inclusive Yemeni-Yemeni political process under the auspices of the United Nations that permanently resolves the conflict,” the statement said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also met with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the sidelines of the UN summit to end the war.

“We find ourselves, in our view, at a moment of chance, of opportunity to help the people of Yemen find a path to lasting peace and security,” Blinken said.

The conflict in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthis captured Sanaa and large parts of the country’s north. The internationally recognized government fled south and then into exile in Saudi Arabia.

The Houthi seizure of power prompted a Saudi-led coalition to intervene months later, and the conflict evolved into a regional proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the United States long involved on the periphery and providing intelligence to the kingdom provided help.

However, international criticism of the Saudi airstrikes that killed civilians led the US to withdraw its support. But the US is suspected of still carrying out drone strikes against suspected members of the local al-Qaeda branch in Yemen.

The war has killed more than 150,000 people, including combatants and civilians, and caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters, killing tens of thousands more.

However, a ceasefire that expired last October has largely held since then. Saudi Arabia, its local allies and the Houthis conducted a prisoner swap in April as part of peace talks.


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