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Saudis praise ‘positive results’ of peace talks with Yemen’s Houthi rebels

SAUDI ARABIA spoke yesterday of “positive results” from negotiations with Yemen’s ruling Houthi movement after representatives of the Iran-backed government visited the kingdom for peace talks, though Riyadh released few details on the discussions.

The five days of talks, which represent the highest-level public negotiations with the Houthis in the kingdom yet, were part of talks aimed at ending Saudi Arabia’s long war against the Arab world’s poorest country.

That conflict has become enmeshed in a wider proxy war between the kingdom and its long-standing regional rival Iran, with which it reached a detente earlier this year following talks brokered by China.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said yesterday that it “welcomed the positive results of the serious discussions regarding reaching a road map to support the peace path in Yemen.

“The kingdom continues to stand with Yemen and its brotherly people and … encourages the Yemeni parties to sit at the negotiating table to reach a comprehensive and lasting political solution in Yemen under the supervision of the United Nations.”

The Houthi delegation met with Saudi Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, who said he had “emphasised the kingdom's support for Yemen and reaffirmed our commitment to promoting dialogue among all parties to reach a comprehensive political solution.”

Chief Houthi negotiator Mohammed Abdul-Salam said there had been “extensive meetings with the Saudi side in which we discussed some options and alternatives to overcome disagreements."

The war in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthis seized Sanaa and much of the country’s north. This prompted a Saudi-led military coalition to intervene months later, with the conflict then turning into a proxy confrontation between Riyadh and Tehran, the Houthis’ key backer.

The fighting has killed over 150,000 people and the resulting humanitarian disaster has claimed tens of thousands more lives. 

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