Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has spoken with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in a phone call that mostly discussed the continuing peace talks in Yemen that have raised hopes of finally ending the years-long conflict there.
The call, in which Sullivan highlighted the “remarkable progress” in Yemen in the last year, was made late on Tuesday, the White House said in a statement.
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He praised “Saudi Arabia’s extraordinary efforts to pursue a more comprehensive roadmap” and “offered full US support for those efforts”, according to the statement.
Saudi and Omani delegations are currently holding talks with Houthi officials in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
The negotiations could result in a deal within the next seven to 10 days, a nongovernmental official told The Associated Press news agency. A senior Biden administration official, however, told the agency that the negotiations are complex.
Yemen has been embroiled in conflict since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015 after Houthi rebels, linked to Iran, overthrew the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2014. The United States militarily backed the Saudi campaign that pushed one of the most impoverished countries in the region towards a dire crisis.
The crisis turned into an all-out proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with civilians caught in its crosshairs. The killing of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis, the displacement of millions and a continuing famine make it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.
To follow up on issues discussed during the call, Biden’s special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, will head to Riyadh this week.
MBS and Sullivan also discussed Saudi Arabia’s renewed ties with Iran and Iran’s nuclear programme, among other topics.
“Mr Sullivan reaffirmed President [Joe] Biden’s unwavering commitment to ensure Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon,” the White House’s statement said.
Saudi and Iranian officials met this past week in Tehran to discuss the reopening of their diplomatic missions after a seven-year absence in a deal that was brokered by China.