US opens direct channel to the Houthis in Yemen
Al Kharj - It also comes after the rebels stepped up missile and drone attacks on neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Washington is in talks with Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in a bid to end the country's war, a top US official said on Thursday, the first such contact in more than four years.
The negotiations open a direct channel between President Donald Trump's administration and the Houthis amid the threat of a broader regional conflict with Iran. It also comes after the rebels stepped up missile and drone attacks on neighbouring Saudi Arabia, a key US ally which heads a military coalition against the Houthis.
"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 Al Kharj air base near the Saudi capital Riyadh. "We are also having talks to the extent possible with the Houthis to try and find a mutually accepted negotiated solution to the conflict."
Schenker gave no further details on the talks, which mark a renewed effort to end a complex conflict that has left tens of thousands dead and sparked what the United Nations labels the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Senior Houthi official Hamid Assem said he could neither confirm nor deny the rebels were in talks with Washington.
At Al Kharj air base, Schenker was shown a display of what Saudi officials said were fragments of Iran-supplied missiles and unmanned drones intercepted in recent months.