Mike Pompeo concerned about rising Houthi attacks in Saudi territory

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths says progress towards peace has been 'grindingly slow'

Mike Pompeo, U.S. secretary of state, speaks during the Christians United For Israel (CUFI) Washington summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, July 8, 2019. In a tweet yesterday Pompeo said Iran's latest expansion of its nuclear program will lead to further isolation and sanctions. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday expressed concern over increased attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia.

Mr Pompeo made his comments in a meeting with the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, on Wednesday.

His spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, said the Houthi attacks “exacerbate the conflict and deepen mistrust” between the parties.

“ The Secretary thanked the special envoy for his continued efforts to move the political process forward,” Ms Ortagus said.



She said the pair had discussed the UN-led peace process and agreed that parties must continue working towards a political settlement and an end to the conflict.

Mr Griffiths said his main aim was to keep the Yemen conflict from descending into a regional war.

“Yemen has its own problems, its own war," he told US radio station PRI.

"It's my first priority at the moment to at least keep it out from being sucked into any potential regional conflict and that was my main discussion with Secretary Pompeo.”

The conflict began with the 2014 takeover of the capital Sanaa by the Iran-backed rebels, who forced out the government.

Mr Griffiths said progress towards peace had been “grindingly slow” since peace talks in Stockholm in December 2018.

An agreement reached in Stockholm for an immediate ceasefire and mutual withdrawal of forces from Hodeidah has been partially successful.

Last week Mr Griffiths met UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, and Minister of State for International Co-operation, Reem Al Hashimy, to discuss the conflict at the start of a regional tour.

Shortly after, UAE officials confirmed the country had redeployed troops in Yemen as it sought to move from a military outlook to a focus on the peace process.