UK urges ‘inclusive peace talks’ in Yemen as conflict enters fourth year

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson and international development secretary Penny Mordaunt called on Iran to stop sending weapons to the Houthi rebels

FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises as people inspect damage at the site of air strikes in the city of Saada, Yemen January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Naif Rahma/File Photo

Britain has urged all sides to resume negotiations in order to find “an inclusive political solution” to the conflict in Yemen.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt insisted that Saudi Arabia has the right to defend itself, particularly when faced with aggression from the Houthi rebels backed by Iran.

They also urged Iran to stop sending weapons to the Houthis, which they said is jeopardising peace in the region.

The comments came as the conflict heads into its fourth year, with Saudi Arabia leading a military alliance supporting Yemen's internationally recognised government against the rebels.

“Saudi Arabia has the right to defend itself against security threats including missiles launched from Yemen, and we support the Saudi-led coalition’s efforts to restore legitimacy in Yemen, as accepted by the UN Security Council,” the ministers said in a joint statement on Monday.


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“A UN panel of experts has concluded that Iran is in non-compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions for failing to take measures to prevent the supply of Iranian-made ballistic missiles to the Houthis,” they noted.

“If Iran is genuinely committed to supporting a political solution in Yemen – as it has publicly stated – then it should stop sending in weapons which prolong the conflict, fuel regional tensions, and pose threats to international peace and security.”

Mr Johnson and Ms Mordaunt also asked why Iran is spending a significant amount of resources in a country with which it has “no real historical ties or interests”. They suggested Iran would be better off using its influence to end the conflict for the sake of the people of Yemen.

“The humanitarian crisis triggered by the conflict has left over 22 million people in need of assistance,” they said. “Without de-escalation and a political settlement millions of civilians risk starvation.”

The ministers said that the UK was working together with Saudi Arabia and other international partners to uphold the UN shipping inspection mechanism to ensure that all ports in Yemen remain open to receiving commercial and humanitarian supplies.

“All sides must redouble their support for the UN’s efforts to reach an inclusive political settlement which addresses the root causes of the conflict,” they said.

“We will continue to play our part in restoring the peace and security needed for Yemenis to resume normal lives.”