Saudi foreign minister talks Yemen and Iran with US secretary of state

The call comes a day before consultations on Yemen are held in Riyadh

Antony Blinken 'reiterated the US commitment to bolstering Saudi Arabia’s defences against threats in the region'. AFP
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan about the Yemen conflict and prospects of reaching a truce during Ramadan, the State Department said.

They discussed "efforts to launch a new, more inclusive and comprehensive peace process," to the war in Yemen, two days before consultations are scheduled to be held in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Wednesday.

The talks are convened by the Gulf Co-Operation Council with the UN attending.

The Houthis had rejected a Saudi invitation to attend the event in Riyadh.

Saudi state-run news agency SPA said Mr Farhan and Mr Blinken also spoke about ways to fortify security and stability in the region.

"The Secretary reiterated the US commitment to bolstering Saudi Arabia’s defences against threats in the region and emphasised the importance of protecting civilians in Yemen," the State Department said.

The conversation comes days after the Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched waves of attacks on civilian infrastructure across Saudi Arabia, causing a large column of smoke to blot out the sky in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition responded by carrying out air strikes in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah where they said the attacks originated.

"The Secretary and the Foreign Minister also discussed the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear programme and building strong international support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity while holding President Putin accountable for his unprovoked and unlawful war," the US statement said.

Mr Blinken wrapped up a historic summit in Israel's southern Negev desert on Monday, where leaders from the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt discussed ongoing talks on the Iran nuclear deal and the war in Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, third right, with foreign ministers of Israel, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and the UAE during a landmark regional summit hosed by Israel in the southern Negev Desert. EPA
Updated: March 29, 2022, 6:04 AM