Boris Johnson offers support for Saudi peace plan in Yemen

Opportunity has been created to end six-year conflict

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving evidence to the House of Commons Liaison Committee at the Houses of Parliament in London on March 24, 2021.  - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT " AFP PHOTO / PRU " - NO USE FOR ENTERTAINMENT, SATIRICAL, MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has welcomed the Saudi Arabian proposal for a ceasefire in Yemen as an opportunity to end the conflict in the country.

Mr Johnson told parliamentary committee chiefs that the UK supported efforts to resolve divisions between the internationally recognised Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa and much of the country's north.

"We back the UN-led approach that's been led by Martin Griffith," he said.

"It's encouraging that there is a ceasefire [proposal] now between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia. We must hope that leads to serious political progress."

Defence committee chairman Tobias Ellwood asked if the integrated review of Britain's security strategy for the next decade would allow the UK to maintain its involvement in developments in Yemen.

"A ceasefire has been put forward by Saudi Arabia," Mr Ellwood said. "A possible solution could be secured. We are the UN Security Council pen holder."

Mr Johnson said London remained supportive of efforts to help Yemen.

"There has been no specific request for UK engagement but it certainly is something that we would be prepared to look at if conditions were right," he said.

"I've got to stress before everybody pricks up their ears that in Yemen the conditions would have be very different from what they are now for us to go ahead with boots on the ground."

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, last week announced the initiative to end the Yemeni crisis and reach a comprehensive political resolution.

It includes a nationwide ceasefire under UN supervision.

Political negotiations between the Yemeni government and the Houthis would also resume under the initiative, Prince Faisal said.

"We will work with the international community, with our partners and with the government of Yemen to push towards this initiative being implemented," he said.

"We will do all we can to put the necessary pressure on the Houthis to accept and to come to the negotiating table and to lay down arms, because we believe that a stop to the fighting and a focus on a political solution is the only way forward."