Russian FM and Yemeni PM agree only political dialogue could end conflict in Yemen

AFP , Monday 22 Jan 2018

Lavrov & Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi enter a hall during their meeting in Moscow, Russia January 22, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)

Russia on Monday called for an end to fighting in Yemen, saying there could be no military solution to the nearly four-year war between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government.

Russia halted its diplomatic presence in Yemen last month because of the deepening conflict and Moscow has previously expressed concern about strikes by the Saudi-led coalition.

"There is no alternative but to end armed conflict as soon as possible in Yemen and it is essential that those taking part in the conflict renounce their attempts to resolve existing problems by force," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow with his Yemeni counterpart Abdulmalik al-Mekhlafi.

Moscow would engage with all sides to help the situation "move from a military scenario to a political dialogue," Lavrov said.

The Yemeni foreign minister said "the legitimate government of Yemen, in common with the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia, supports a peaceful solution," in comments translated into Russian.

"War was not our choice, war was imposed on us," he said.

Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 with the stated aim of rolling back Houthi rebel gains and restoring the country's "legitimate" government to power.

More than 9,200 people have been killed since the intervention.

Another nearly 2,200 Yemenis have died of cholera amid deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions, according to the World Health Organisation.

Over the past year, the United Nations' efforts to address what it has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis have been hampered by a crippling blockade of rebel-held ports by the Saudi-led coalition.

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