Wed 20 Sep 2023 1:52 pm - Jerusalem Time

Saudi and Houthi officials describe talks between them in Riyadh as “serious and positive”

Saudi and Houthi officials described the talks they held in Riyadh over a period of five days as “serious and positive,” expressing their optimism in the possibility of reaching a road map to put the Yemen war on the path to a solution, despite the failure to reach a clear agreement.

While the Houthi delegation was leaving Riyadh, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and the United States discussed the Yemeni conflict in New York on the sidelines of the work of the United Nations General Assembly, stressing the need for cooperation to support peace efforts in the poorest countries of the Arabian Peninsula, which has been witnessing a war since 2014 between the Houthi rebels supported by Iran and government forces supported by Riyadh.

The Houthi delegation returned on Tuesday evening to Sanaa, which has been under rebel control for nine years, after a public visit to Saudi Arabia, which since March 2015 has led a military coalition that also includes the UAE, fighting alongside the Yemeni government forces.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it welcomed "the positive results of serious discussions regarding reaching a road map to support the peace process in Yemen."

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman said on the X platform (formerly Twitter) that he met with the Houthi delegation and stressed during the meeting “the Kingdom’s standing with Yemen and its brotherly people, and its keenness to encourage the Yemeni parties to sit at the dialogue table.”

He added, "We look forward to the serious discussions achieving their goals, and for the Yemeni parties to come together to speak out and be united."

The Houthis, for their part, said that the talks with Saudi officials, which took place under Omani mediation, were positive.

Member of the delegation and official spokesman for the Ansar Allah Movement, Muhammad Abdel Salam, said, “Our delegation, upon its arrival in Riyadh, held extensive meetings with the Saudi side.”

During these meetings, according to Abdel Salam, “some options and alternatives were discussed to overcome the issues of disagreement that occurred in the previous round,” referring to the visit of a Saudi delegation to Sana’a last April, adding, “We will submit them to the leadership for consultation.”

Ali Al-Qahum, a member of the movement's political bureau, said that a new round of talks would take place at a time he did not specify, after "the negotiations" in Saudi Arabia were "characterized by seriousness, positivity, and optimism in overcoming the stumbling blocks and complications in the humanitarian files and the disbursement of salaries and humanitarian treatments."

The US State Department also welcomed the talks in a statement, stressing that developing a road map to end the conflict “through a Yemeni-led political process under the auspices of the United Nations is of utmost importance to the United States.”

In New York, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discussed with his Saudi and Emirati counterparts “the urgent need for a permanent solution to the conflict in Yemen, and other priorities,” according to what the US Secretary wrote on the “X” platform.

He added, "Coordination with our partners regarding Yemen and regional challenges is crucial to achieving peace and stability."

The Emirates News Agency reported that the foreign ministers of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the United States stressed “the importance of close cooperation between the three countries and the Presidential Command Council in Yemen to enhance UN-led peace efforts.”

A Yemeni government official familiar with the content of the talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia told Agence France-Presse that the talks focused on the issue of paying the salaries of employees of the Houthi government, which is not recognized by the authority, and inaugurating new destinations from Sanaa Airport, which remained closed for years before the coalition allowed it to be opened last year. Its airspace is for planes flying to Jordan and Egypt.

It was also expected that the Houthis would discuss with Saudi officials the “final formula” for a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire, after which the parties to the conflict would begin negotiations directly to reach a political solution under the auspices of the United Nations and with the support of Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The conflict in Yemen has caused the death and injury of hundreds of thousands and the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations.

The intensity of the fighting decreased significantly after the UN-brokered ceasefire that entered into force in April 2022. This truce remains largely in effect even after it expired in October 2022.

But the humanitarian crisis in the poor country continues to worsen, with humanitarian aid declining due to lack of funding.


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Saudi and Houthi officials describe talks between them in Riyadh as “serious and positive”