Houthi spokesman meets with Iran foreign minister in Tehran

Mohammad Abdul Salam's Iran-backed rebel movement has been waging a more than three-year-long war in Yemen

FILE PHOTO: A soldier walks at Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo

The spokesman of Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on Saturday, state-run media said.

Mohammad Abdul Salam's Houthi movement has been waging a more than three-year-long war in Yemen against the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. Although a Saudi-led military coalition has helped pro-government forces to recapture large swathes of the country from the Houthis, the rebels still control the capital, Sanaa, a well as large areas of the north of the country.

Mr Zarif called for an immediate end to the war in his meeting with Mr Salam on Saturday, referencing a "four-clause plan" drawn up by Tehran to resolve the crisis.

He also called for the immediate shipment of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people, Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.


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Mr Salam, meanwhile, provided Mr Zarif "with an account of ongoing conditions of Yemen".

UN assessors say Iran violated a United Nations arms embargo by directly or indirectly providing missiles and drones to the Houthis.

Iran denies supplying the rebels with weapons.

The meeting between Mr Salam and Mr Zarif came as a source in the Yemeni province of Taez told The National that Houthi fighters besieging the provincial capital were shelling civilians trying to escape.


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A child and young man were killed on Saturday when the rebels targeted their car, while another child and his grandmother were killed the night before, said Tariq Al Mulaiki, a journalist and media officer for the Yemeni army.

It followed the killing of a woman activist and her male colleague by a Houthi sniper on Thursday while they were delivering aid in besieged Taez city.

The province's governor, Amin Ahmed Mahmood, arrived in Taez city on Saturday morning in his first visit since being appointed by Mr Hadi in December last year.

The director of the provincial government's media department, Najeeb Qahtan, said Mr Mahmood wanted to help resolve the dire situation of the city's residents who have been living under siege for more than three years.

The UN says that more than 22 million of Yemen's 25 million population need humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million who are in acute need — an increase of more than 1 million people since March 2017. Tens of thousands are struggling with cholera, diphtheria and other diseases.

On Friday, Washington welcomed reports that four US-funded cranes operated by the World Food Programme were unloading supplies in Yemen's Houthi-controlled Hodeidah port, Reuters reported.

The UN said last month that the four mobile cranes had arrived in Hodeidah after the Saudi-led coalition agreed to let them into the country.

"These cranes are offloading key supplies for the people of Yemen and will allow greater throughput of critical humanitarian assistance and goods," US state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Friday.

The Saudi-led coalition, which includes the UAE, intervened in Yemen's war in March 2015 to help restore Mr Hadi's government to power. The coalition has limited access to the port at Hodeidah over concerns it was being used by the Houthis to smuggle in weapons.

"An enduring solution to this conflict, and the desperate humanitarian situation, will not be reached militarily," Ms Nauert added.

She also said the US welcomed a pledge by the coalition to provide $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid for Yemen.