US and Britain plan talks on Yemen with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Four-way meeting is expected to take place during Middle East security summit in Warsaw next month

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, shakes hands with British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, at the Department of State, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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The United States and Britain plan to hold a meeting on Yemen with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Poland next month in a bid to revive faltering peace efforts in the war-torn country.

The meeting was announced by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt after talks in Washington with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton on Thursday.

"Agreed with @SecPompeo today that we would host a meeting in February with Saudi Arabia & the UAE to bolster our support for the Stockholm process and agree next steps for further progress on a political settlement for Yemen," Mr Hunt tweeted.

The meeting is expected to take place on the sidelines of a summit on Middle East security and the threat posed by Iran that will be held in Warsaw on February 13 and 14. Foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Morocco are expected to attend the summit.

The UAE Embassy in Washington on Thursday confirmed that Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, would be attending the summit. "The UAE welcomes ongoing US efforts to work with partners to address common challenges," the embassy tweeted.

A US official told The National that there were as yet no specific details to be announced regarding the Yemen meeting in Warsaw. A US statement on Mr Hunt's talks with Mr Pompeo said only that they discussed the next steps in the political process in Yemen and countering Iran's malign behaviour.

The US and Britain are trying to use their political and financial leverage to break the deadlock in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and the UAE play leading roles in an Arab military coalition supporting the government against the Iran-backed rebels.

A ceasefire agreement for the port city of Hodeidah is faltering more a month after it went into effect. The truce and several confidence-building measures were agreed upon last month in the first direct talks between the government and rebels in Sweden but have yet to be fully implemented.

The UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has made successive trips to the region, and was in Sanaa and Riyadh this week to secure the Hodeidah agreement. But a return to violence is threatening to scuttle the whole deal. Last week the convoy of the head of the UN ceasefire monitors was hit by a bullet. The government said the Houthis were behind the shooting.

Britain announced an extra $3.28 million (Dh12.4m) in funding for Yemen this week to boost Mr Griffiths' efforts.