GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
RIYADH – US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to review the deepening crisis in Yemen as he arrived in Riyadh late Wednesday for meeting with high-ranking Saudi officials. Kerry’s talks with senior Saudi officials including his counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir will focus on key regional issues with special reference to Yemen, Iran, Syria and the upcoming GCC-US summit.
“Kerry, during his stay in Riyadh on Wednesday and Thursday, will meet with senior Saudi government leaders to discuss a variety of issues related to regional security,” confirmed Stewart Wight, a spokesman of the US embassy, here. Al-Jubeir and Kerry will also address a joint press conference Thursday afternoon as per the schedule announced by the Saudi ministry of foreign affairs.
Kerry, before his departure to Riyadh from Djibouti, credited the Kingdom with trying to ease access for aid organizations and blamed the Houthis for the continued violence in that war-ravaged country and also across the borders. In a press conference held in Djibouti, the US secretary of state further said that he believed a break in the fighting could be arranged in the coming days in Yemen.
“The US is concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen and will discuss a possible pause in fighting with Saudi officials to try to get food, fuel and medicine to civilians,” he said. “The situation is getting more dire by the day and we are concerned about that,” Kerry told the news conference during the visit to Djibouti, the first US secretary of state to visit the Horn of Africa nation.
He, however, said that the US and the Kingdom will “discuss the nature of the pause and how it might be implemented in Yemen.” Kerry was in Djibouti on Wednesday for talks with the government and to visit a key US military base from where pilots fly missions over Yemen and Somalia. Djibouti overlooking the Gulf of Aden has become an important center for Washington’s interventions in Africa and against Al-Qaeda safe havens in Yemen.
Off its shores is a vital sea lane for ships heading to the Gulf. The US has also beefed up its small consular operations in Djibouti to help process Yemeni-American families fleeing the conflict in Yemen. As of April 28, the US Embassy in Djibouti has assisted more than 500 US citizens arriving from Yemen, according to a statement released by the US State Department. — ArabNews