US envoy to Yemen in Gulf to push forward efforts to end war

Tim Lenderking will continue to push for renewal of truce that had brought the country nearly one year of calm, says US state department

US Special Envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking's trip to the Gulf comes as Yemen's warring sides are negotiating a prisoner release deal in Switzerland. Reuters
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US Special Envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking began a visit to Saudi Arabia and Oman to push forward diplomatic efforts aimed at reviving the country's stalled peace process.

The American official's trip to the Gulf on Wednesday comes as Yemen's warring sides are negotiating a prisoner release deal in Switzerland that is intended to end the brutal war Yemen has endured.

Mr Lenderking's visit to Saudi Arabia and Oman is intended to "continue intensive US efforts to build on the UN-mediated truce that has brought nearly one year of calm to Yemen".

A historic truce, which began last April and was extended twice, expired in early October, with the Iran-backed Houthis rejecting efforts by the UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, to extend the truce for a further six months.

"The truce and the ensuing period of calm enabled through US diplomacy since 2021 have saved thousands of lives, brought tangible relief to millions of Yemenis, and created the best opportunity for peace Yemen has had in years," said a statement by the US department of State.

Mr Lenderking will "urge all parties to seize this opportunity to reach a new agreement and move towards an inclusive Yemeni-led political process, under UN auspices", the statement said.

The visit comes as Mr Grundberg began a visit to Iran where he met Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other top officials in Tehran.

The top UN official is pushing for further inclusive negotiations between Yemen’s warring groups to put an end to the war.

“Discussions tackled the need for regional support for the start of an inclusive, Yemeni-led political process under UN auspices to sustainably end the conflict," said a statement by Mr Grundberg's office.

Mr Grundberg "stressed that ending the conflict in Yemen is important for enhancing regional security.”

The developments come as Iran announced a deal to re-establish diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.

The agreement was brokered by China, Iraq and Oman, and will see Riyadh and Tehran reopen embassies and consulates within the next two months.

Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers will meet to begin arranging the exchange of ambassadors and discuss ways to strengthen the renewed relations.

The countries also agreed to reactivate a 2001 security co-operation agreement and 1998 deals on the economy, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports and youth.

Updated: March 15, 2023, 11:55 AM