US calls for end to fighting in Yemen amid famine fears


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said UN-led negotiations to end the civil war should begin next month. The nearly four-year-old conflict has claimed over 10,000 lives and pushed millions to the brink of starvation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday called for a cessation of hostilities in Yemen, which has been ravaged by a nearly four-year-old civil war.

Pompeo said missile strikes by Iran-backed Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should stop. He also called on the Saudi-led coalition to stop air strikes in all populated areas of Yemen.

The US helps the coalition by refueling its jets and providing training in targeting.

“The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV (drone) strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” Pompeo said. “Subsequently, coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen,” he added.

Human rights groups have accused the Saudi-led coalition of intentionally bombing civilian gatherings, markets, hospitals and residential areas across the war-torn country.

The coalition has been fighting in Yemen since 2015 to reinstate President Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi’s internationally-recognized government after Houthi rebels forced him into exile.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the civil war that has pushed more than 8 million people to the brink of famine.

UN-backed talks

UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said earlier this month that the world body hoped to resume consultations between the warring sides by November.

Pompeo and US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis backed Griffiths’ call for talks next month.

Mattis said on Tuesday the US had been watching the conflict “for long enough” and called for a ceasefire.

“We’ve got to move toward a peace effort here. And we can’t say we’re going to do it sometime in the future. We need to be doing this in the next 30 days,” he said.

Mattis added that Saudi Arabia and the UAE appeared ready to embrace UN efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Last month, UN-led peace talks failed to take off after Houthi rebels refused to fly to Geneva.

ap/bw (AFP, Reuters)


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