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US envoy Lenderking returns to Gulf for talks on Yemen, Iran

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US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking is visiting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to coordinate on regional security and concerns over Iran, and for talks on UN-led peace efforts for Yemen, the State Department said on Tuesday.

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It said Lenderking would also discuss the detention by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia of some Yemeni staff at the US embassy compound in the capital, Sanaa, which was closed in 2015.

The State Department had earlier said the majority of the local employees had been released, without saying how many had been detained or when. The US embassy in Sanaa shut after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government from Sanaa in late 2014. It has since operated out of Riyadh.

Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, in a Twitter post on Sunday criticized the US for “abandoning” local staff, but did not directly refer to their detention.

Lenderking has visited the region frequently this year as part of UN-led efforts to engineer a ceasefire in Yemen needed to restart political talks to end the war, in which an Arab coalition intervened in March 2015 against the Houthis.

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