Iranian president calls for halt to Yemen airstrikes

Rowhani’s call for an end on airstrikes in Yemen comes after U.S. and UAE both accused Iran of meddling in Yemen

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Iranian President Hassan Rowhani called for an end to airstrikes in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and Arab allies, urging countries in the region to work towards a political solution and “adopt spirit of brotherhood.”

“A great nation like Yemen will not submit to bombing. Come, let us all think about ending war. Let us think about a ceasefire,” Rowhani said in a televised speech on Thursday.

He added: “To the countries in the region, I say, let’s adopt the spirit of brotherhood, let’s respect each other and other nations. A nation does not give in through bombing.”

Do not kill innocent children. Let’s think about an end to the war, about ceasefire and humanitarian assistance to the suffering people of Yemen.”

He said a campaign of airstrikes and bombardment is “wrong,” citing examples of Syria and Iraq, where a U.S.-led coalition is targeting ISIS militants.

“You will learn, not later but soon, that you are making a mistake in Yemen, too,” Rowhani said, without naming any particular country.

Saudi Arabia and a coalition that includes four other Gulf Arab states have carried out airstrikes against the Iran-allied Houthi movement for the past two weeks to try to drive them back from the southern city of Aden.

“Let us prepare to bring Yemenis to the negotiating table to make decisions about their future... Let us accept that the future of Yemen will be in the hands of the people of Yemen, not anyone else,” Rowhani said.

Coalition countries say they are supporting Yemeni President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi against an attempted coup by the Houthis and accuse Iran of arming the group, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nayahan both accused Iran of meddling in Yemen on Wednesday.

On the same day, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on Pakistan to work towards a political solution during a visit to Islamabad, after Saudi Arabia asked Pakistan to join the coalition.

On Wednesday, Iran also dispatched a naval destroyer and another logistic vessel to waters near Yemen as the United States quickened weapons supply to the Saudi-led coalition striking rebels there, underlining how foreign powers are deepening their involvement in the conflict.

(With Reuters and Associated Press)

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