Biden aide discusses Yemen peace push with Saudi crown prince

AP , Monday 8 May 2023

US national security advisor Jake Sullivan discussed efforts to end Yemen's eight-year war during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the White House said in a statement.

Saudi Crown Prince
File photo: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia takes his seat ahead of a working lunch at the G20 Summit, Nov. 15, 2022, in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. AP



The meeting Sunday night in Saudi Arabia came during a tense period for US-Saudi ties, marred by disputes over human rights issues and oil production.

Sullivan and Prince Mohammed "reviewed significant progress in talks to further consolidate the now 15-month long truce in Yemen and welcomed ongoing UN-led efforts to bring the war to a close", the White House statement said.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has headed a coalition in Yemen to support the internationally-recognized government and topple the Iran-backed Huthi rebels who seized the capital the previous year.

But a truce that went into effect in April 2022 has largely held despite officially expiring in October.

Last month, Saudi envoy Mohammed Al-Jaber led a delegation to the Yemeni capital Sanaa to negotiate with the Huthis and "stabilise" the truce.

The delegation left without a new truce deal but with a commitment from the rebels to hold a second round of talks, according to Huthi and Yemeni government sources.

Saudi Arabia is widely believed to be seeking a military exit from Yemen, and analysts say efforts to negotiate with the Huthis were given a boost by a surprise Chinese-brokered rapprochement deal between the kingdom and Iran announced in March.

Saudi Arabia has also played a major role in the international response to fighting in Sudan that broke out last month, hosting in Jeddah since Saturday the first direct talks between the warring sides.

Riyadh has also dispatched naval and commercial vessels to bring thousands of people from numerous countries across the Red Sea to Jeddah from the Sudanese coastal city of Port Sudan.

Sullivan "thanked the Crown Prince for the support Saudi Arabia has provided to US citizens during the evacuation from Sudan", the White House statement said.

Along with Saudi leaders, Sullivan met with counterparts from the United Arab Emirates and India "to advance their shared vision of a more secure and prosperous Middle East region interconnected with India and the world", the White House statement said.

US news outlet Axios reported on Saturday that the meeting would examine a possible joint infrastructure project linking "Gulf and Arab countries via a network of railways that would also be connected to India via shipping lanes from ports in the region".

The talks were also expected to touch on "the possibility of further normalization steps between Saudi Arabia and Israel", Axios said.

The official Saudi Press Agency said the US delegation included Brett McGurk, National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, and Michael Ratney, Washington's new ambassador to Riyadh.

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