By Arab News
By Rashid Hassan
US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed hope on Sunday that a new cease-fire in the Yemen conflict could be agreed within two weeks.
On his last visit to the Kingdom as secretary, Kerry said the United States will work with Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to achieve a new pause in the fighting, which would be the eighth cease-fire attempt since hostilities escalated early last year.
He said that millions of Yemenis have been displaced during the war, who urgently need humanitarian assistance.
“We intend to do that with best of our abilities,” he said. “You can see from the humanitarian situation, which is dire and deteriorating rapidly, and that it is urgent that we try to bring this war to a close. We urge all concerned parties to come together to the negotiation table for peace in Yemen.”
He was speaking at a press conference following a high-level meeting with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif with whom he discussed matters related to security and the fight against extremism.
He later joined Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and regional counterparts for meeting at Al-Nasiriyah Palace on Sunday to discuss the situation in Yemen as also a political process to resolve issues in Yemen.
Kerry also met with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace and discussed regional developments.
Besides Kerry and Al-Jubeir, the closed door meeting was attended by British Minister of Middle East Affairs Tobias Ellwood, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi and UN special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to discuss developments in Yemen.
During the joint press conference with Kerry, Al-Jubeir said the group discussed a peace road map for Yemen.
He said the group agreed to emphasize restoring peace in Yemen, which focuses on the main three terms of reference that include the Gulf Sponsored initiative, carrying out the National Dialogue and the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2216 and stressing the significance and inclusion of the accord in terms of the transition of power.
‘No US curb on military support’
Al-Jubeir denied media reports that the United States had decided to limit military support, including a planned arms sale, to the Kingdom. “This news that has been leaked contradicts reality,” he said and added: “The reality is that converting regular bombs to smart bombs would be welcome because smart bombs are more accurate.”
He also condemned the terror attack by Daesh in the southern port city of Aden that killed soldiers lined up to receive their pay.
“In turbulent times, it is good to have solid friends, that is why the United States’ partnership with Saudi Arabia is rightly so valuable,” he said. “We are also concerned about the security of the Kingdom, and we want to bring Yemen war to a close in a way that protects the security of Saudi Arabia.”
On Iranian intervention in the region and supply of arms and ammunition to the rebels, Kerry called upon Iran to join peace process not only in Yemen but also in Syria and refrain from destabilization tendency.
Al-Jubeir said that Iran poses danger to the peace in the region.
He also expressed concern over the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which allows families of victims killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack to sue Saudi Arabia in court for damages.
He said he had expressed his concern to Congress during his visit, noting that it will set wrong precedent by allowing the courts to make rulings on government action. The US, he said, will face problems from African countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
However, he added that there will be no cut on bilateral investment due to this decision.
Echoing the sentiment Kerry said, “it is a bad law, we all opposed it for attack on sovereign immunity.”
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