Pentagon chief Mattis holds talks in UAE after Yemen warning

Abu Dhabi's crown prince says 'defence and military ties' and 'issues of mutual interest' discussed in the meeting.

    James Mattis held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed late on Friday [Reuters]
    James Mattis held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed late on Friday [Reuters]

    US Defence Secretary James Mattis has held talks with Abu Dhabi's crown prince in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), days after warning the Gulf state that Washington's support for its military intervention in Yemen was not unconditional.

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed tweeted on Saturday that his meeting with the Pentagon chief late on Friday covered "the enhancing of defence and military ties" and "issues of mutual interest."

    He did not give further details.

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    On August 28, Mattis warned that the United States could end its support for the Saudi-UAE military alliance fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels amid an international outcry over the deaths of dozens of children in coalition air raids.

    Twin attacks south of the rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeidah on August 23 killed 26 children, according to the United Nations.

    An August 9 air raid in Houthi-held Saada province killed 51 people, including 40 children.

    US support

    The US provides weapons, aerial refuelling, intelligence and targeting information to the coalition.

    Last month, Mattis said that the US has been working with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to improve targeting and recognises that tragedies have occurred.

    "It is not unconditional," Mattis said of Washington's backing for the coalition.

    "Our conduct there is to try and keep the human cost of innocents being killed accidentally to the absolute minimum.

    Yemen remains wracked by violence since the Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa, in 2014.

    The conflict escalated in March 2015 when Saudi Arabia and allies - who accuse the Houthis of being Iranian proxies - launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back rebel gains.

    Iran and the Houthis deny the accusations.

    Now entering its fourth year, the war has pushed more than 22 million people - half of whom are children - to seek humanitarian assistance.

    According to the UN, more than 10,000 people have been killed in the war in Yemen - a death toll that has not been updated in years and is certain to be far higher. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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