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US, Britain Push for Yemen Ceasefire as Relations with Saudis Cool

WASHINGTON – The United States and Britain, Saudi Arabia’s biggest arms suppliers, are stepping up their pressure for a ceasefire in the Yemen war, the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster, New York Times reported Thursday.
The Newspaper said, the calls for a halt to the conflict — by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday night and his British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, on Wednesday, and US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis starting last weekend — came as criticism of Saudi Arabia has surged over its bombing campaign in Yemen and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi writer.
The Saudi-led bombings have been a major cause of civilian deaths and destruction during the 3 1/2-year-old conflict in Yemen.
“It is time to end this conflict, replace conflict with compromise, and allow the Yemeni people to heal through peace and reconstruction,” Pompeo said in a statement posted on the State Department website on Tuesday night.
Pompeo emphasized that the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are fighting the Saudi-led coalition, must first stop firing missiles at Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But he also said that “subsequently, coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen.”
While the United States has urged talks before, Pompeo’s statement was the strongest call yet by Saudi Arabia’s US ally to stop the fighting in Yemen, where previous attempts at cease-fires have always collapsed.
Moreover, the push comes as relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States have cooled in the month since Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was killed in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate by a team of Saudi operatives. The operatives had close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In a letter reported by NBC News on Wednesday, five Republican senators asked President Donald Trump to cut off civilian nuclear talks with the Saudis, the already troubled by the Yemen war and outraged over Khashoggi’s killing, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been calling on the Trump administration to penalize Saudi Arabia.
According to New York Times sources, the administration’s Yemen cease-fire proposal appeared aimed at least in part at heading off congressional fury and preserving the Saudi relationship.
Whether the calls by the United States and Britain will be backed by stronger action to pressure the Saudis and other combatants in the conflict was not clear.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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