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US official says Washington in talks with Yemeni Houthis

Published: Updated:

A top US official said Thursday that Washington was in talks with the Iran-backed Houthi militia in a bid to end Yemen’s war.

“We are narrowly focused on trying to end the war in Yemen,” Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told reporters during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

“We are also having talks to the extent possible with the Houthis to try and find a mutually accepted negotiated solution to the conflict,” he added.

This marks the first contact between the administration of President Donald Trump and the Houthis in over four years.

Under the administration of former President Barack Obama, US officials held brief talks with Houthi leaders in June 2015 to convince them to attend UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva to resolve the crisis.

The Geneva conference and further rounds of negotiations failed to bring the core conflict to an end, which has pushed impoverished Yemen to the brink of famine.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the Houthi militia captured the capital Sanaa and much of the country in 2014.

The conflict has sparked what the United Nations labels the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.