Blinken urges new Yemen leader to seek lasting peace

Rashad al-Alimi, president of Yemen's new leadership council, is seen in Riyadh on April 7, 2022
Rashad al-Alimi, president of Yemen’s new leadership council, is seen in Riyadh on April 7, 2022 Fayez Nureldine AFP/File

Washington (AFP) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday encouraged Yemen’s new leader to work toward a lasting peace amid rare bright spots after seven years of devastating war.

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Blinken spoke by telephone with Rashad al-Alimi, who heads a new council running the Saudi-backed government after the former president handed over power.

Blinken voiced support for a UN-brokered two-month truce between the government and Iranian-backed Huthi rebels that has largely held since April 2, the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The top US diplomat “underscored the need to seize the momentum from these positive developments to secure a lasting ceasefire and a comprehensive peace process,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

He also called for progress on reopening roads to areas including Taez, Yemen’s third largest city, another key part of the truce brokered under UN special envoy Hans Grundberg.

US President Joe Biden took office last year pledging to curtail support for the Saudi-led coalition that has pounded the Huthis, contributing to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

But the Biden administration has also been frustrated by continued offensives by the Huthis, who control much of the country.