IslamNews – Senior U.S. officials have held a first direct meeting with officials from the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that controls Yemen’s capital, two sources familiar with the matter said, as the new U.S. administration pushes to end a six-year war.
The discussions, which have not been officially made public by either side, took place in the Omani capital Muscat on Feb. 26 between U.S. Yemen envoy Timothy Lenderking and the Houthis’ chief negotiator Mohammed Abdusalam, the sources said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price in a briefing on Wednesday declined to confirm or deny whether Lenderking met with the Houthis but said he was now back in Riyadh for further consultations with Saudi officials.
The Muscat meeting, one of the sources said, was part of a new “carrot and stick” approach by U.S. President Joe Biden, who last month declared a halt to American support for the Saudi-led military campaign. Biden has also reversed a decision by his predecessor Donald Trump to designate the Houthis terrorists.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on two Houthi military leaders, accusing them of procuring weapons from Iran and organising attacks, after the group stepped up attacks on Saudi Arabia and intensified an offensive on the ground in Yemen’s Marib.