Kerry, Saudies to Discuss Yemen

Kerry, Saudies to Discuss YemenKerry, Saudies to Discuss Yemen

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he hopes to secure a pause in Yemen’s war as he prepared for talks in Saudi Arabia Wednesday, citing increased shortages of food, fuel and medicine that are adding to a crisis that already has neighboring countries bracing for a mass exodus of refugees.

At a news conference in Djibouti, Kerry said the US was deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian conditions in Yemen. He was speaking just a boat trip away from the scene of the fighting, where Houthi forces were pressing on with ground offensives and Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries were continuing a month-and-a-half long bombing campaign, AP said in a report.

He said he believed a break in the fighting could be arranged in the coming days, alluding to telephone conversations he had this week with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and “another country.”

Even a temporary halt to the fight “would be welcome news to the world,” Kerry said.

But he stressed that any arrangement must entail conditions so that no party to the conflict tries to use the moratorium to seize territory or otherwise gain an advantage, which would threaten to set back the humanitarian cause even further. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia suspended schools in the southern town of Najran. According to reports, five Saudi soldiers were captured by the Houthi forces.

Yemen has long suffered from desperate poverty, political dysfunction and al-Qaeda’s most lethal branch. The rise of Houthis to power in Yemen in the past few months prompted a Saudi-led military intervention of Arab governments.

The Saudis also are backing pro-government forces on the ground in Yemen trying to fight back against the Houthis.