Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Saudi Arabia shuttles between Yemen government and STC at Jeddah talks

The kingdom is making efforts to unite both sides against Houthi rebels in Yemen

Soldiers with a military coalition in Yemen backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stand guard at a facility of Yemen's Red sea mills company in the port city of Hodeidah. AFP
Soldiers with a military coalition in Yemen backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stand guard at a facility of Yemen's Red sea mills company in the port city of Hodeidah. AFP

Saudi Arabia is shuttling between delegations of the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council at talks in Jeddah aimed at ending fighting in the country’s southern provinces.

The call for talks came after fighting between pro-government forces and those loyal to the STC erupted in Aden last month.

“Until now there have been no direct talks between the two, just separate consultations between the Saudi government and the Yemeni government and the STC,” a Yemeni government official, who asked to remain anonymous, told The National on Thursday.

“There are some sort of long conversations, meetings, they want to reach a compromise to de-escalate the situation between both sides,” he said, adding that there had been no concrete results yet.

Saudi Arabia is leading the Arab Coalition, which includes the UAE, that has been fighting in Yemen to restore the internationally recognised government since 2015, after the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.

The United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, expressed his full support for the Saudi-led initiative in Jeddah.

"I encourage the government of Yemen and the STC to seize this opportunity and settle their differences through peaceful means," Mr Griffiths said on Twitter.

Earlier this week, the STC head, Aidarous Al Zubaidi, welcomed the efforts by the UAE and Saudi Arabia to end the crisis and to resolve the southern issue.

The council's troops took control of military bases and the seat of the Yemeni government.

“The council is ready to participate constructively in the negotiation process and we welcome Saudi Arabia’s keenness to maintain peace and stability in Yemen,” Mr Al Zubaidi said.

In recent weeks both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have stressed that dialogue between the two sides is the only way to end the crisis.

They also called for the importance of preserving a united front against the Houthi rebels.

The UAE has repeatedly said that it is up to the Yemenis to resolve the conflict and the international community must spare no effort in its support for a peaceful resolution.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Wednesday reaffirmed the partnership of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in confronting challenges together in Yemen.

''UAE and Saudi Arabia are standing as partners in one trench to face besetting challenges. Our shared goals are security of the UAE and Saudi Arabia and stability of the whole region. We also share a common destiny and future,'' Sheikh Mohamed said.

Additionally during a visit to Saudi Arabia last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasised the importance of a negotiated resolution.

Washington said on Thursday that US officials were in talks with the rebels.

"We are narrowly focused on trying to end the war in Yemen," said Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, told AFP.

"We are also having talks to the extent possible with the Houthis to try and find a mutually accepted negotiated solution to the conflict," Mr Schenker said.

The development comes as Saudi Arabia intercepted two Houthi missiles launched towards the kingdom on Thursday morning, the state news agency said.

The rebels have increased their cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia In recent months.

Updated: September 5, 2019 05:19 PM

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