Saudi U.N. envoy slams Russia’s request on Yemen

Abdullah Al-Moalami’s comments came shortly after Russia distributed a draft resolution pressing for the suspension of Yemen air strikes

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Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the United Nations said Saturday that Russia’s call for a humanitarian pause in Yemen was aimed at hindering a draft resolution by Gulf Arab states and Jordan that is being negotiated by the Security Council.

Abdullah al-Moalami’s comments to Al-Hadath, Al Arabiya’s sister channel, came shortly after Russia called for a meeting of the 15-member council amid growing alarm over the rising civilian death toll in Yemen.

Russia had distributed a draft resolution pressing for a suspension of airstrikes to allow the evacuation of foreign civilians and diplomats, and demanding rapid and unhindered humanitarian access, reported Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent in New York.

The correspondent said the one-page draft did not include any demands for the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Earlier on Saturday, Moalami said Saudi Arabia shared Russia’s concerns about ensuring the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Yemen, but the method of implementation is yet to be discussed, Reuters news agency reported.

“We always provided the necessary facilities for humanitarian assistance to be delivered,” he said.

“We have cooperated fully with all requests for evacuation,” he added, echoing comments made earlier by the Saudi spokesperson for the air campaign, Brigadier-General Ahmed Asiri.

Moalami said the humanitarian situation in Yemen was already addressed in the draft resolution by Gulf Arab states and Jordan.

It is being negotiating with the council’s veto-wielding powers Russia, China, the United States, Britain and France.

Violence has sharply escalated in Yemen following a Saudi-led air campaign launched on March 26 to stop an advance by Houthi rebels that forced President Abedrabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations backs Hadi as Yemen’s legitimate leader in the face of the Houthi coup that has plunged the poor Arab state deeper into chaos.

The Houthis and forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh seized the capital Sanaa in February, and last month advanced on the port city of Aden, Hadi’s stronghold, forcing him to go into exile.

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