Middle East

Iran urges all sides to join Yemen talks, slams Saudi

Armed Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi flash their guns in the Dabab district in Taez province on November 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NABIL HASSAN

TEHRAN: Iran has called for all sides in Yemen's war to join U.N.-sponsored peace talks and accused Saudi Arabia of worsening the conflict with its military intervention against Tehran-backed rebels.

In talks with visiting U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed Wednesday, Iranian officials including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif backed his efforts to resolve the conflict.

Stressing the U.N. role "in finding a political solution in Yemen," Zarif called for "the participation of all Yemeni groups" in talks Cheikh Ahmed is hoping to convene in Geneva this month, the IRNA news agency reported.

U.N. efforts have repeatedly failed to resolve the conflict in Yemen, where the pro-Iran Shiite Houthi rebels have seized control of large parts of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

A Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against the rebels in March and has sent ground troops in support of a fightback by forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

In separate talks with Cheikh Ahmed, Iran's deputy foreign minister told the envoy Saudi Arabia's intervention was making security worse.

"For the Islamic Republic of Iran, the security of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the region are important," the ISNA news agency quoted Hossein Amir Abdollahian as saying.

"But Saudi Arabia cannot endanger the security of others to provide its own security," he said.

Cheikh Ahmed for his part praised Iran as "an important and influential country in the region" which has "a determining role in the fight against terrorism," IRNA reported.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been identified by the United Nations as one of the world's worst, with 80 percent of the country's population on the brink of famine.





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