Mar 22, 2021 - World

Saudi Arabia proposes Yemen ceasefire and peace talks

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, March 10. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Saudi Arabia presented a new initiative to end the war in Yemen on Monday and called on the Houthi rebels to endorse it.

Why it matters: The war in Yemen has caused perhaps the world's worst humanitarian crisis and has become Saudi Arabia's "Vietnam."

  • The U.S. originally backed the Saudi-led effort to oust the Houthis after they deposed the Yemeni government.
  • But soon after taking office, the Biden administration ended support for offensive operations in Yemen and suspended arms deals with the Saudis.

Driving the news: Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said at a press conference that the proposal includes:

  • An immediate ceasefire in Yemen under UN supervision.
  • A reopening of Sana'a International Airport.
  • Direct peace talks between the exiled Yemeni government, which was ousted in 2014, and the Houthi rebels.

What they're saying: “We will make every effort to press the Houthis to accept the initiative. The ball is in their court."

  • Farhan added that Saudi Arabia hopes the Biden administration endorses the initiative. “If the Houthis refuse, the U.S. and the international community should put pressure on them," he said.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke today with Farhan about the situation in Yemen.

  • He expressed the U.S. commitment to helping Saudi Arabia defend itself and condemned recent attacks on Saudi territory from Yemen, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
  • They also discussed efforts to end the war, starting with a ceasefire and steps to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, Price said.
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