Top US diplomat for Yemen calls on Houthis to end assault on Marib

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The State Department said Friday that the Iran-backed Houthis were holding up a peaceful solution to the war in Yemen.

Steps to reach a ceasefire in Yemen include “ending the Houthi assault on Marib, facilitating UN inspection and repair of the SAFER oil tanker, and supporting the Republic of Yemen Government’s efforts to stabilize the Yemeni economy and ease the humanitarian crisis,” the State Department said.

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After his fourth visit to the region, US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking has returned to Washington. During his trip abroad, Lenderking also stopped in Germany before heading to the United Arab Emirates.

Since taking office, US President Joe Biden has said ending the Yemen war was a priority for him. He tapped Lenderking to head these efforts.

The latter has been working in partnership with UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.

But despite a softer approach against Yemen’s Houthis by the Biden administration, the group has ramped up its offensive on the northern government stronghold of Marib and continued launching missiles and drones at civilian targets inside Saudi Arabia.

The group, which was designated a terrorist organization by the US until Biden took office, is also blocking UN access to an oil tanker off the coast of Yemen.

Stranded near the Red Sea port in Hodeidah since 2015, the Houthis have refused to allow the United Nations or other international organizations to board the vessel. Estimates suggest that over 1 million barrels of crude oil could spill into the sea, and the UN has warned of “catastrophic environmental and humanitarian consequences.”

While in Berlin, the US diplomat participated in talks with officials from Germany, Kuwait, Sweden, the EU and permanent members of the UN Security Council.

In the UAE, Lenderking met with Emirati officials “to discuss the importance of full implementation of the Riyadh Agreement and a united Republic of Yemen Government.”

The Houthis agreed to the Riyadh Agreement in November 2019 in a deal that would split government posts between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC). But the group quickly reneged and continued fighting.

In recent weeks, the Yemeni government has voiced its willingness to reach a political solution to the yearslong conflict. The international community, including the US, Europe and the UN, has welcomed efforts by Saudi Arabia and other regional countries to end the war.

On Thursday, the State Department released a statement ripping into the Houthis for not committing to these efforts. The US ambassador to the UN also hit out at the group for its lack of seriousness in ending the war.

Read more: US diplomat Lenderking flies to Germany, Gulf region for Yemen ceasefire talks

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