US Yemen envoy meets Saudi foreign minister in first visit

Tim Lenderking visits Riyadh after Washington announces review of relations

US Envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking is in Saudi Arabia for talks. Ryan Christopher Jones / The National
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The US envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, met Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan to discuss developments in the Yemen conflict, state-run media reported.

The pair on Thursday discussed joint efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution to the conflict, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Muhammad Al Jaber, also attended the meeting.

The visit by the newly appointed US envoy came after President Joe Biden said last Thursday that America would halt offensive support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting to restore the internationally recognised government of Yemen.

Mr Lenderking also met the UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, on the trip to Riyadh.

They discussed strategies for a ceasefire, aid assistance and the peace process, the US embassy in Yemen said.

The US also halted intelligence sharing and temporarily froze arms sales to Saudi Arabia while Washington carried out a review.

But the Biden administration stressed its support for the defence of the kingdom amid a wave of Iran-backed Yemeni rebel attacks.

On Wednesday, Houthi rebels claimed an attack on a civilian airport in the south-west of the kingdom that damaged a plane and suspended flights, which have since resumed.

“Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, [drone] strikes and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries,” Mr Biden said last week.

“We’re going to continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”

Mr Griffiths visited Tehran this week as he continued to try to build support for peace talks.