Saudi envoy to US: Yemen deal 'will help bring back security'

AFP , Thursday 13 Dec 2018

Prince Khalid bin Salman
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman (Photo: AFP0

Saudi Arabia and its Arab coalition partners "strongly support" an agreement reached on Yemen in UN-brokered peace talks Thursday, which includes a ceasefire in the vital port of Hodeida, Riyadh's US ambassador Khalid bin Salman said.

"The agreement announced today will help bring back security to the region including the security of the Red Sea, a vital water way for international trade," the envoy, who is the brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said on his Twitter account.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced the breakthrough in Sweden, where representatives of the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels held talks on ending the conflict in Yemen, which has triggered the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Guterres said the warring sides agreed to a ceasefire in war-torn Hodeida, and that all forces would be withdrawn from the city and harbor.

The United Nations, he said, would play a "leading role" in monitoring the rebel-held port and facilitate aid access for the civilian population.

In a series of tweets, the influential Saudi ambassador to the United States expressed support for the agreement while defending the kingdom's role in the four-year-old war.

"#KSA and the Arab Coalition strongly support the agreement announced in Sweden today," he wrote, using the initials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. "The agreement is a major step towards alleviating the humanitarian crisis and reaching a political solution."

He portrayed the Iranian-backed Houthis as the cause of the humanitarian crisis and maintained that "only consistent military pressure by the Yemeni armed forces and the Arab coalition forced them to agree" to UN supervision of Hodeida.

"We hope that the Houthis accept a comprehensive political solution, in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, that serves the interests of Yemen and its people rather than working on behalf of the Iranian regime's interests," the ambassador said.

"We remain committed to ending the humanitarian crisis to help Yemen rebuild," he said.

A new round of talks has been set for the end of January, with analysts predicting that Washington will continue to pressure Saudi Arabia to end the conflict.

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