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UPDATE 1-US: Houthis spurned opportunity by shunning UN Yemen envoy

UPDATE 1-US: Houthis spurned opportunity by shunning UN Yemen envoy

05/07/2021 12:44
UPDATE 1-US: Houthis spurned opportunity by shunning UN Yemen envoy

Recasts, adds detail throughout

- Yemen's Houthi group passed up a major opportunity to show a commitment to peace by refusing to meet with a U.N. mediator in Oman, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

It also accused the Houthis of worsening Yemen's humanitarian crisis by attacking Marib, the last northern stronghold of the Saudi-backed government that the Houthis drove out of the capital, and "exacerbating dire conditions for already-vulnerable internally displaced Yemenis."

Since taking office in January, U.S. President Joe Biden has made Yemen a priority and appointed Tim Lenderking as a special envoy to help revive stalled U.N. peace efforts. Lenderking returned on Thursday from a visit to Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Jordan, during which he met with U.N. mediator Martin Griffiths.

"There is a fair deal on the table that will bring immediate relief to Yemeni people," the State Department said.

"The Houthis passed up a major opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to peace and to make progress on this proposal by refusing to meet with U.N. Special Envoy Griffiths in Muscat - especially given the Republic of Yemen Government's stated readiness to reach an agreement to end the conflict."

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the government from the capital Sanaa. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system.

Griffiths said on Wednesday that "we are not where we would like to be in reaching a deal."

Lenderking also met with senior Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to stress the need for all restrictions to be eased on imports and travel into Yemen's seaport at Hodeidah and Sanaa airport.


(Reporting by Tim Ahmann, David Brunnstrom and Michelle Nichols; writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

(([email protected]; +1-202 354 5835; Twitter: @davidbrunnstrom; Reuters Messaging: [email protected]@thomsonreuters.net))