WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed developments in Yemen with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday.
During the meeting in Washington, Pompeo reiterated US support for a negotiated resolution between the government of Yemen and the separatist Southern Transitional Council. Forces from the two parties have been part of a coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi militants, who sparked the conflict in 2014. But in recent weeks the separatists have clashed with governement troops, particularly in the interim capital Aden.
Pompeo thanked Prince Khalid for Saudi Arabia’s efforts to mediate the dispute. The Kingdom invited the parties involved to hold talks in Saudi Arabia and insisted on a ceasefire in Aden after sveral days of fighting earlier this month killed dozens of people.
Pompeo and Prince Khalid agreed that "dialogue represents the only way to achieve a stable, unified, and prosperous Yemen," the State Department said.
The two men also discussed the need for stronger maritime security in order to promote freedom of navigation and Iran's destabilizing activities in the region.
Saudi Arabia and the US have both reacted strongly to a spate of attacks on shipping in and near the Arabian Gulf that has been blamed on Iran.
The attacks came after the US ramped up its military presence in the region in response to threats from Tehran. Tensions have been high since Donald Trump withdrew the US from an international agreement designed to curb Iran's nuclear program.
Saudi Arabia, and other Arab nations, say the deal has allowed Iran to continue developing its ballistic missiles and helped it fund an aggressive foreign policy of destabilizing the Middle East with proxy militias.