US envoy for Yemen has 'productive' meetings amid stalling progress

US envoy for Yemen has 'productive' meetings amid stalling progress
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The State Department said Tim Lenderking, the U.S. special envoy for Yemen, had “productive” meetings during his trips to Saudi Arabia and Oman as progress over the Yemeni civil war stalls.

The State Department said in a statement that Lenderking “returned on March 31 from travel to Saudi Arabia and Oman, where he held productive meetings with Omani, Saudi, and Yemeni senior leaders in coordination with UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths.”

“Lenderking and Griffiths continue to work side-by-side to help bring about a ceasefire, inclusive political talks, and a durable peace agreement that addresses the needs of all Yemenis. U.S. Special Envoy Lenderking’s discussions also focused on efforts to address the humanitarian and economic crisis in Yemen,” the agency said.

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Lenderking’s visit is the first he’s made since Saudi Arabia offered Yemen’s Houthi rebels a cease-fire last week. However, while some assistance has been delivered through Hudaydah port since then, violence in the country has not been quelled.

The Houthis, who have ties to Tehran, have ramped up attacks against Saudi oil infrastructure in recent weeks, raising the temperature in what has already devolved into one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history.

The yearslong civil war in Yemen has been characterized by fighting between the Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition, whose offensive has been blamed for the deaths of thousands of civilians and widespread food and water shortages.

The Biden administration has touted its efforts to curb the violence, announcing in February an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in the war and lifting a terrorist designation against the Houthis, a label critics said would prevent humanitarian aid from reaching people living in areas the rebels control. 

However, officials have grappled with the continued violence, maintaining that Saudi Arabia has the right to defend itself against Houthi attacks.