A senior State Department official held talks last week with the representatives of Yemen’s Houthis, opening a new round of diplomacy aimed at putting an end to the war taking place against the Arab impoverished country.
Anne W. Patterson, the Obama administration’s top diplomat for the Near East, held meetings last week in Oman to discuss the “violence in Yemen and the capture of several Americans by the Houthis,” said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, according to The New York Times.
Harf said representatives of the Houthis had participated in the Oman discussions. She said Patterson had also traveled to Saudi Arabia as part of a “broad engagement with elements of the Yemeni political spectrum.”
She said that the meetings were intended to “reinforce our view that there can only be a political solution to the conflict in Yemen, and that all parties, including the Houthis, should commit to participation in the UN-led political process.”
The meetings, the first direct encounter between American officials and the Houthis, were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
They came just before the release on Monday of an American freelance journalist, Casey L. Coombs, who had been held by Houthis fighters.
American officials said Coombs was now in Muscat, the capital of Oman.
Yemen has been since March 26 under brutal aggression by a Saudi-led coalition. Thousands have been martyred and injured in the attack, with the vast majority of them are civilians.
Riyadh launched the attack on Yemen in a bid to restore power to Yemen’s fugitive president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi who is a close ally to Saudi Arabia.
The Pentagon has been providing intelligence and advice on targets to the Saudi-led coalition in its war against the Houthis, in what American and Saudi officials had hoped would be a quick and decisive campaign. However, It has not worked out that way.
Medical and relief organizations say the airstrikes have killed hundreds of civilians, and the humanitarian catastrophe has been growing as a result of an embargo on food, fuel, water and medicines.