Reports & News

Wed - 01 Apr 2020 - 02:27 AM ،،،

 Saudi Arabia has invited the Iran-backed Houthi representatives and the internationally recognized government in Yemen to peace talks in the kingdom, a senior Saudi official said.

Saudi’s ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed al-Jaber, told The Wall Street Journal that the proposal for talks to end the five-year war, which has killed more than 100,000 people, remains on the table despite a flare-up in violence over the weekend. The Houthis haven’t yet responded to the offer, he said.

Saudi authorities on Saturday said they shot down ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis at its capital Riyadh and another city on the Saudi border with Yemen. A Saudi-led military coalition on Monday responded with airstrikes in San’a, the first such strikes in Yemen’s capital in months.

Mr. Jaber said Saudi officials spoke with their Houthi counterparts on Monday to emphasize that the San’a strikes were in response to Saturday’s missile attacks and not intended as a re-escalation of the conflict.

“We are committed to our de-escalation,” Mr. Jaber said. “We are ready to have a cease-fire in all Yemeni territory if they accept it.” Houthi representatives couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Jaber said that before this weekend’s violence, the internationally recognized, Saudi-backed Yemeni government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Houthis had agreed to de-escalate the conflict and begin confidence-building talks.

The Saudi offer of talks in the kingdom was undertaken at the request of Martin Griffiths, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Mr. Jaber said.

Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have accused Iran of arming and training the Houthis. The Saudi-led coalition said in a statement that targets of its airstrikes on Monday included sites manned by experts from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

While Saudi officials have privately acknowledged they have held direct talks with the Houthis, Mr. Jaber went further. Since last year, he said, there have been daily telephone calls between officials of the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis.

The diplomatic channel was opened last September, after the Houthis announced they would cease missile and drone strikes on Saudi territory, Mr. Jaber said. The Houthi announcement followed devastating attacks on Saudi oil facilities. While the Houthis claimed to have conducted those attacks, Saudi and U.S. officials say Iran was responsible.