US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking travelled to Jordan and Saudi Arabia this week to advance UN-led peace efforts in the war-torn country, the State Department said.
Mr Lenderking met senior Yemeni and regional government officials as well as UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg on his Monday travel, a State Department representative told The National.
“We believe that 2023 brings new opportunities to end the conflict in Yemen,” the representative said.
Despite the failure to extend a UN-brokered ceasefire between the internationally recognised Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels, Mr Lenderking has voiced cautious optimism over peace efforts.
The truce, which began on April 2 and was extended twice, expired in early October, with the Iran-backed Houthis rejecting efforts by Mr Grundberg to extend it for a further six months.
At a December congressional hearing, Mr Lenderking said efforts to achieve lasting peace are in “a new phase”, and that “there's probably more engagement between the conflict parties now than there has been at any time”.
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Although there has not been a resumption of all-out war, several Houthi attacks on infrastructure have raised concerns among Yemenis and international groups.
The Houthis have been striking oil ports in government-held areas in a bid to extract economic concessions in peace talks. Government officials say the attacks disrupt crude oil exports and choke off state revenue.
In November, the Houthis conducted drone attacks on Al Dhabba oil terminal in Yemen's Hadhramaut province, raising alarm and drawing a rebuke from the UN.
Mr Grundberg told the UN last month that the renewal of the truce remained “inconclusive” due to a lack of trust.
The UN envoy warned that the possibility of a “new conflict remains real”.
“We urge the parties to accelerate their engagement with the UN to secure an expanded truce agreement and move towards an inclusive Yemeni political process,” the State Department representative told The National.