UN Yemen envoy arrives in Riyadh to discuss ways to end war

Hans Grundberg is set to meet senior Saudi and Yemeni officials

The new UN special envoy to Yemen arrived in Saudi Arabia late on Wednesday to find "durable solutions" to end the conflict.

Hans Grundberg, who took up the post last week after serving as the European Union’s ambassador to Yemen since 2019, will meet senior Saudi and Yemeni government officials in Riyadh during his first official visit to the kingdom.

The Swedish diplomat is “keen to engage with Yemenis and other key interlocutors on how to find durable solutions to the conflict and reach an inclusive political settlement that ends the war and meets the aspirations of the Yemeni people,” his office said.

On Thursday, Mr Grundberg was expected to meet Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, Prime Minister Maeen Saaed, Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak, House Speaker Sultan Barakani and representatives of Yemeni political parties.

He is scheduled to conclude his trip to Saudi Arabia on Friday, a UN official told The National.

Last week, Mr Grundberg said Yemen was “stuck in an indefinite state of war”. He said he planned to review what had and had not worked in the past and “listen to as many Yemeni men and women as possible”.

“The conflict parties have not discussed a comprehensive settlement since 2016,” Mr Grundberg said.

“It is, therefore, long overdue for the conflict parties to engage in peaceful dialogue with one another under UN facilitation on the terms of an overarching settlement, in good faith and without preconditions.”

Mr Grundberg's visit came as Tim Lenderking, the US envoy to Yemen, met Yemeni government officials in Riyadh.

Mr Lenderking held talks with Mr Saaed and said Washington is "aware of the continued intransigence of the Houthi rebels and Iran's destructive role in the region".

The Yemeni prime minister stressed to Mr Lenderking the importance of maintaining a unified international stance against Iranian interference in the country.

This week, Mr Lenderking urged international donors for further funds during an online briefing.

The UN’s 2021 appeal for $3.85 billion for Yemen had only been half funded.

Mr Lenderking called for a “new momentum” to broker a deal between the Houthis and Yemen’s toppled government, and urged the country’s warring forces to return to the negotiating table and hammer out a ceasefire plan.

“There's a lot of support for more inclusive peace efforts that build on the strong demand inside of Yemen for peace and opposition to the costly, stalemated offensive in Marib,” said Mr Lenderking.

“We can't ignore the fact that the erosion of the economy and basic services continues to drive the humanitarian crisis throughout Yemen.”

Updated: September 16th 2021, 11:21 AM