AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: A group of Chinese diplomats is visiting Yemen’s southern city of Aden for the first time in eight years, the latest in a series of foreign visits to the country’s temporary capital and seat of the internationally recognized government.
The Chinese delegation, led by Chu Ch’ing, the acting Chinese ambassador to Yemen, met with Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed and other government officials, and also visited the Chinese Consulate in Aden.
Saeed and the Chinese envoys discussed the Houthi rejection of peace efforts, and China’s support for Yemenis and the government through humanitarian assistance, Yemen’s official news agency reported.
The prime minister described China as his country’s “primary trading partner,” and urged Beijing to continue its projects in Aden, including construction of a marine dock for the port, which have been halted during the war.
The Chinese Embassy in Yemen tweeted that the Chinese delegation toured the new Foreign Affairs Ministry building, met with the prime minister, signed an agreement to give cars and sanitary supplies to local authorities, and visited a memorial in Aden honoring a Chinese sailor.
Yemeni officials say that the visit follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s talks with the head of the Presidential Leadership Council of Yemen, Rashad Mohammed Al-Alimi, in Riyadh in early December.
During the talks Xi made a commitment to step up Chinese help to the conflict-ravaged country.
The Chinese delegation is the latest high-profile visit to Yemen. Two weeks ago a group of European ambassadors to the country visited Aden and Taiz, where they voiced support for the Yemeni government and held talks with local authorities.
Many nations are hesitant to move their embassies from Riyadh to Aden or build consulates there, despite appeals from the Yemeni government and the city’s relative calm.
Meanwhile, Omani mediators are in Houthi-held Sanaa to press for de-escalation and the renewal of the UN-brokered ceasefire. The visit follows a threat by the militia to resume hostilities.
Houthi-affiliated media said that the Omani delegation arrived in the city on Monday to meet with militia leaders for talks on issues including salary payment and the lifting of the blockade.
Oman stepped in after UN envoy Hans Grundberg and other foreign mediators failed to convince the Houthis to renew the ceasefire, open roads in Taiz, and stop targeting government-controlled oil infrastructure.
This visit follows a threat by the militia’s Supreme Political Council to launch larger-scale military operations aimed at ending the status quo created by the UN-brokered truce.
“The status of neither peace nor war is unacceptable and will not last for long, and the military is in full preparedness,” the council said, according to Houthi media.
Facing growing public resentment, along with calls to pay salaries and improve other services, the Houthis launched explosive-rigged drones at oil terminals in government-controlled Hadramout and Shabwa in a bid to force the government to share oil revenues and pay public servants in areas they control.