xi's moments
Home | Middle East

Riyadh in talks with Yemen rebels

China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-07 10:11

Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (L), Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (C) and Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi (R) are seen during a signing ceremony of a saudi-brokered deal between Yemen's government and southern separatists to end a power struggle in the southern port of Aden in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov 5, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Riyadh is in talks with Yemen's Houthi rebels in a bid to end the country's civil war, a Saudi official said on Wednesday, in the first official confirmation of dialogue between the two sides.

The comment came after Saudi Arabia brokered a power-sharing agreement between Yemen's internationally-recognized government and southern Houthi separatists. Observers say it could pave the way for a wider peace deal.

"We have had an open channel with the Houthis since 2016. We are continuing these communications to support peace in Yemen," a senior Saudi official told reporters.

"We don't close our doors with the Houthis."

The official, who declined to be named, gave no further details on the talks but the development came after the rebels' missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities spiked over the summer, followed by a lull in recent weeks.

There was no immediate comment from the Houthi rebels, who seized Yemen's capital Sanaa and much of the country's north in 2014, sparking a Saudi-led military intervention in March 2015.

Washington too is in talks with the Houthis, US Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said during a visit to Saudi Arabia in September.

He did not say whether Washington was holding talks separately with the rebels, but analysts say it was likely happening in consultation with Saudi Arabia, a key ally in the Middle East.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 as the Houthis closed in on second city Aden, prompting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh had reportedly hoped for a quick win against the Houthis, but instead waded into a quagmire that has cost it billions of dollars and hurt its reputation, while devastating the Arab world's poorest country.

The confirmation of talks also came amid the slow implementation of a landmark cease-fire deal in rebel-held Hodeida, which was reached by the Yemeni government and the Houthis in Sweden late last year.

The deal was hailed as Yemen's best chance so far to end the four-year conflict, but it appears to be hanging by a thread with breaches reported by both sides.

"If the Houthis (are) serious to de-escalate and accept to come to the table, Saudi Arabia will support their demand and support all political parties to reach a political solution," the Saudi official said.

The Houthis, on their part, have offered to halt all attacks on Saudi Arabia as part of a wider peace initiative, later repeating their proposal despite continued airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition.

The offer came after the Houthis claimed responsibility for attacks on Sept 14 against two key Saudi oil installations that temporarily knocked out half of the OPEC giant's production.

AFP - Xinhua

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349