UPDATE 1-U.S. intends to revoke terrorist designation of Yemen's Houthis
Updates with details, background, U.S. official comment
WASHINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - The United States said on Friday it intends to revoke the terrorist designation for Yemen's Houthi movement in response to the country's humanitarian crisis, reversing one of the most criticised last-minute decisions of the Trump administration.
"After a comprehensive review, we can confirm that the Secretary intends to revoke the Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist designations of Ansarallah," the official said using another name for the Houthis.
"Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration, which the United Nations and humanitarian organizations have since made clear would accelerate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis," the official said.
The United Nations describes Yemen as the world's biggest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of its people in need.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had blacklisted the Houthis on Jan. 19 - a day before President Joe Biden took office - despite warnings from the United Nations and aid groups that it would push millions in Yemen into a large-scale famine.
The official has also stressed that the action has "nothing to do" with the U.S. view of the Houthis and their "reprehensible conduct" and repeated Washington's commitment to helping Saudi Arabia to defend its territory against further such attacks.
The Trump administration exempted aid groups, the United Nations, the Red Cross and the export of agricultural commodities, medicine and medical devices from its designation, but U.N. officials and aid groups said the carve-outs were not enough and called for the decision to be revoked.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Cynthia Osterman)