US official says Washington in talks with Yemeni rebels


A top US official said Thursday that Washington was in talks with the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels in a bid to end Yemen's war.

"We are narrowly focused on trying to end the war in Yemen," Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told reporters during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

"We are also having talks to the extent possible with the Huthis to try and find a mutually accepted negotiated solution to the conflict."

This marks the first contact between the administration of President Donald Trump and the Huthis in over four years.

An offensive against the Yemeni government by the Huthis in 2015 triggered the launch of a Saudi-led military intervention against the rebels, but Yemen's conflict has since become even more complex and multi-layered.

Under the administration of former president Barack Obama, US officials held brief talks with Huthi leaders in June 2015, just three months after the Saudi intervention began, to convince them to attend UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva to resolve the crisis.

The Geneva conference and further rounds of negotiations failed to bring the core conflict to an end, which has pushed impoverished Yemen to the brink of famine.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the Huthi rebels captured the capital Sanaa and much of the country in 2014.

The conflict has sparked what the United Nations labels the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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