The National - News

Pompeo hopes for resolution in southern Yemen as he meets Saudi deputy minister

- JOYCE KARAM Washington

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Saudi deputy defence minister Prince Khalid bin Salman on Wednesday and stressed the need for talks to end the dispute in the Yemeni city of Aden.

“The secretary reiterated US support for a negotiated resolution between the Yemen government and the Southern Transition­al Council,” the State Department said.

Clashes broke out again in Aden on Wednesday between the Yemeni government and STC forces.

Government forces tried to take advantage of the STC’s commitment to de-escalation and push forward.

However, by Wednesday evening, it was not definitive­ly known who was in control of the port city.

Although pro-government forces claimed to have made advances in the morning, by night time STC fighters had seemingly retaken control of Aden’s airport and the main government agencies.

In Washington, Mr Pompeo thanked the Saudi minister for the kingdom’s efforts to mediate the dispute.

Saudi Arabia has tried to gather the factions in Riyadh and broker a deal since the clashes started three weeks ago.

Saudi Arabia and the US agreed that talks were the only way to achieve “a stable, unified and prosperous Yemen”.

Last week, Prince Khalid met Martin Griffiths, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen, who continues to mediate to try to avert a bigger crisis.

A State Department official told The National that the US wanted “to work with our internatio­nal partners to bring peace, prosperity and security to a unified Yemen”.

“We are focused on supporting a comprehens­ive political agreement that will end the conflict and dire humanitari­an situation,” the official said.

Mr Pompeo was involved in the new US diplomatic push to boost Mr Griffiths’ efforts, which could involve direct US talks with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

On Iran, Mr Pompeo stressed the need for stronger maritime security to promote freedom of navigation, and to counter the Iranian regime’s destabilis­ing activities in the region.

This month, Mr Pompeo called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Khalid’s brother, to discuss Yemen and the two “reaffirmed their strong support for UN efforts to advance the political process”.

Gerald Feierstein, a former US ambassador to Yemen and vice president of the Middle East Institute, told The National on Tuesday that Prince Khalid’s visit was a “sign of greater US engagement in resolving the Yemen conflict”.

Mr Feierstein said the push could be part of a broader regional strategy to ease tension between the US and Iran.

 ?? SPA ?? Prince Khalid bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meet in Washington to discuss Yemen
SPA Prince Khalid bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meet in Washington to discuss Yemen

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