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Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of blocking Yemen peace

AFP/Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Filed on October 30, 2017 | Last updated on October 30, 2017 at 05.56 am
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir

(AFP)

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir accused Tehran of smuggling arms to Yemen's Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia on Sunday accused Iran of blocking peace efforts in Yemen, slamming it for supporting rebels which coalition forces are battling in Yemen.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir accused Tehran of smuggling arms to Yemen's Houthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa and northern Yemen, and to the rebels' ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"Iran is destroying all attempts to find a solution in Yemen, which has led to the failure of all political negotiations between the government and these militias," Al Jubeir said in Riyadh.

He was addressing a meeting of foreign ministers and military officials from countries, including Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, which are part of the Saudi-led coalition involved in Yemen.

"These militias would not have continued operations without the support of the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world - the Iranian regime," Al Jubeir said.

While Iran does not hide its support for the rebels' cause, it has consistently denied smuggling arms to the Houthis.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik Al Mekhlafi told the meeting the Houthis were carrying out a "sectarian project inspired by Iran" which he said sought to "topple the legitimate (Yemeni) government".

The Yemen war has claimed more than 8,600 lives since a regional military coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, joined the Yemeni government's fight against the rebels in 2015.

A cholera outbreak has also claimed more than 2,100 lives since April as hospitals struggle to secure supplies amid a blockades on ports and the country's main international airport.

The United Nations has warned Yemen now stands at the brink of famine.

Multiple rounds of UN-sponsored talks on the Yemen war have failed to broker a political settlement between the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the rebels and their allies.

Addressing Sunday's gathering, Saudi chief of staff, General Abdel Rahman bin Saleh Al Banyan, said Yemeni forces had regained control of "85 per cent of the country" and had "spared civilians in conformity with international humanitarian law".

The meeting comes a week after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Gulf officials in the Saudi capital for talks that largely focused on Iran's role across the region.


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