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Saudi renews support for Yemen political solution after Biden speech

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 11, 2020 fighters from of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) fire towards the positions of Saudi-backed government forces during clashes in the Sheikh Salim area in the southern Abyan province. – Saudi Arabia reaffirmed support for a “comprehensive political solution” in Yemen, state media reported early on February 5, 2021 after President Joe Biden ended US support for the kingdom’s military campaign in the country. The White House said the previous day that Biden would end his support for the war by Washington’s Saudi allies in Yemen, in his first major foreign policy speech. (Photo by Nabil HASAN / AFP)

Saudi Arabia reaffirmed support for a “comprehensive political solution” in Yemen, state media reported early Friday, after President Joe Biden ended US support for the kingdom’s military campaign in the country.

“The kingdom has affirmed its firm position in support of a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis, and welcomes the US emphasis on the importance of supporting diplomatic efforts to resolve the Yemeni crisis,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia also welcomed Biden’s “commitment to cooperate with the kingdom to defend its sovereignty and counter threats against it”, it added.

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The statement did not address Biden’s pledge to terminate US support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen.

“We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arm sales,” Biden said Thursday in his first major speech on foreign affairs.

“At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks and other attacks from Iranian supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to help Saudi Arabia to defend its territory and its people,” Biden added.

Saudi Arabia has come under repeated missile or drone attacks from Yemen’s Huthi rebels since it launched a military intervention against them in 2015.

“We welcome President Biden’s stated commitment to work with friends and allies to resolve conflicts and deal with attacks from Iran & its proxies in the region,” Prince Khalid bin Salman, the kingdom’s deputy defence minister, wrote on Twitter.

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“We look forward to continue working with our American partners to alleviate the humanitarian situation and find a solution to the Yemen crisis,” he added.

Prince Khalid also welcomed the appointment of veteran diplomat Timothy Lenderking as a US special envoy for Yemen. Biden said Lenderking would support UN efforts to reach a ceasefire and revive peace talks between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia is stuck in a military quagmire in Yemen, which has been locked in conflict since the rebels took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014 and went on to seize much of the north.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused regional rival Iran of supplying sophisticated weapons to the Huthis, a charge Tehran denies.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in Yemen’s war, which the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

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