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UN taps veteran Swedish diplomat to be new Yemen envoy

The US quickly came out in support of Hans Grundberg’s appointment.

Published: Updated:

The UN announced the appointment of Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg as the new envoy for Yemen on Friday.

Grundberg will take over for Martin Griffiths who will become the next under‑secretary‑general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA).

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres thanked Griffiths for his work and dedication to diplomatic efforts in Yemen over the years.

Grundberg is a veteran diplomat with a focus in the Middle East, according to the UN.

He was previously the chief of the Gulf Division at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has also served in other Swedish and EU missions in Cairo, Jerusalem and Brussels.

The Swede will have an arduous task as the Iran-backed Houthis continue to refuse to negotiate ceasefire proposals and they escalate their offensive on Yemen’s Marib.

The Houthis snubbed Griffiths earlier this year after he invited them to meet for discussions.

Following an easing of US pressure and sanctions on the Houthis by the Biden administration, Washington was met with a negative response by the Iran-backed group.

This was followed by other sanctions being announced by the US on Houthi officials. The group is no longer considered a terrorist organization by the US as President Joe Biden revoked the designation shortly after taking office.

The top US diplomat welcomes the appointment of Grundberg.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Grundberg would bring “considerable expertise on Yemen and the region,” and signaled his readiness to work with him to advance “a durable resolution” to Yemen war.

Blinken also took the opportunity to reprimand the Houthis for the refusal to end the offensive on Marib and other fighting. The US also thanked Griffiths for his work on the Yemen file and said it was looking forward to working with him in his new role.

Read more: Houthi militants attack academic at Ibb University