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Yemeni Ambassador Calls on Russia, US to Urge Houthis to Join Peace Talks

© AP Photo / Hani MohammedHouthis fighters. (File)
Houthis fighters. (File) - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Russia and the United States should have a unified and tough message to the Yemeni rebel Houthi movement, calling on it to sit at the negotiating table, Ambassador of Yemen to the United States Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak told Sputnik.

"I think they [Russia and the United States] need to keep a unified strong message to the Houthis that there is no compromises, the only way to resolve the Yemeni problem is the Security Council resolution, they have to come to the table, and that they will not accept any excuses from them… I think having this unified strong message from Russia and the United States is very important," Mubarak said.

Yemen is grateful to Russia for its support for the country's legitimate government and for unifying the world around one position on the Yemeni issue, Ambassador of Yemen told Sputnik.

"We appreciate the Russian support to the legitimate government and their understanding for the main causes. I think they know more than others the roots of the problem in Yemen… We do appreciate all the support to the special envoy [of the United Nations, Martin Griffiths] and also to the Yemeni government and also pushing the international community and unifying international voice towards one opinion," Mubarak said.

The ambassador noted that Yemen would appreciate more aid and more economic contribution from Russia.

"I think that will be highly appreciated, open up Russia for the Yemeni students and give hope to the Yemeni young people, I think that is something will be very positive. In the end, the problem in Yemen is economical, I think finding jobs for Yemenis, opportunities, open up window for Yemenis to travel and to exchange thoughts, I think this is the only way how to defeat the extremist ideology," the diplomat suggested.

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When asked whether he has had any meetings with Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov, Mubarak said he would love to hold talks with the Russian diplomat but had not yet been lucky to do that.

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Russia's Deputy Envoy to United Nations Vladimir Safronkov said in September that Russia would continue providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Yemen both in the north and in the south of the war-torn country.

The Yemeni Ambassador said that the United States' support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is vital and will help decrease the number of casualties in the military conflict facing the Middle Eastern country.

"Yes, for sure… We believe that keeping this support from the United States to the coalition is crucial, it is very important. I think they are serving the Yemeni aims… And also, if we are talking about the casualties, I think having the United States involved, I think, this will reduce the number of casualties," Mubarak said, when asked whether Washington should continue supporting the coalition.

In August, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that Washington was reviewing its support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen following media reports that the Pentagon could withdraw its backing for operations against the Houthi rebels in the Middle Eastern country. Mattis said US support was not unconditional, adding that in order to receive assistance, the Saudi-led coalition must do everything possible to prevent loss of civilian lives and support the UN-brokered peace process.

Asked to comment on the United States reviewing its support for the coalition, Mubarak said, that the Yemeni authorities had heard about it a long time ago.

"Long time ago they said that, and again, I think there is strategic interest between the Saudis and the Americans. I think the new administration they know exactly what does mean Houthis having power in Yemen and controlling the Bab el Mandeb Strait, threatening international maritime, and affecting the entire security and stability of region and the world. So, I think that it's for the sake of the American interest not to let Houthis succeed in Yemen and to defeat the Iranian rule in Yemen," the ambassador insisted.

READ MORE: Yemen Peace Talks to Be Useless Until Hodeidah Liberated — Deputy Minister

The Yemeni government is not discussing any new initiatives aimed at solving the ongoing conflict in the war-torn country and considers the UN path as the only way to settle the crisis, the Ambassador of Yemen said.

"There is no initiative. Actually, there is one path which is the UN path to solve the Yemeni problem, and we are open freely to discuss all the options within this framework," Mubarak said.

Mubarak stressed that the solution to the Yemeni crisis should be based on three references, which are the UN Security Council Resolution 2216, the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and the National Dialogue Conference outcomes.

"And the milestone in that, first is to restore the state. We are not accepting the status quo as it is now. Then, discuss the future of Yemen and the political arrangements. But first, I think we have to restore the security arrangement before the political arrangements [are reached]," Mubarak pointed out.

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The delegation of the Yemeni Houthi rebel movement did not come to Geneva for the recent consultations on the conflict in the Middle Eastern country because of the internal politics within the group and Iran's interference in the situation, the ambassador told Sputnik.

"Unfortunately, for no reason, Houthis decided not to show up. And our explanation that it's because of some internal politics among the Houthis movement and also because of the Iranian and Hezbollah interference," Mubarak said. The Yemeni rebel Houthi movement should provide UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths with written guarantees that they will attend the next peace talks and that they agree with the agenda of the negotiations, the Yemeni Ambassador said, adding that it was too early to talk about resuming these talks.

Earlier this week, Griffiths said he was hopeful to resume peace talks on Yemen by November.

"We believe that it's premature to do that," Mubarak said."Our clear message to them that we will support the special envoy and all his efforts, but we want him to be assured 100 percent that Houthis will come and the agenda is fully discussed with them and they agree on it. If he can get some written guarantees from them, that will be ok. We will support him," the ambassador pointed out.

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Mubarak noted that the Yemeni government has not yet heard from Griffiths on what has been achieved and what has been changed since the failed Geneva talks in September.

"So, based on that we will decide. But in general, our principal position is that we are supporting the special envoy," the ambassador concluded.

On September 6, the UN-mediated peace talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government were supposed to be held in Geneva, but the Houthi delegation failed to arrive, accusing the Saudi-led coalition, which controls Yemeni airspace, of blocking them from traveling. According to the coalition, Houthis were allowed to leave on time but did not use this opportunity.

"In Geneva, we were optimistic. We came on time. We discussed already the agenda with the special envoy [of the United Nations on Yemen, Martin Griffiths], and our belief was just to build the trust among the parties and to have kind of… quick wins," Mubarak noted.

The government had expected to start the talks with confidence-building measures, which include the settling the salary issue, free access to humanitarian aid and Sanaa airport and releasing detainees, Mubarak noted.

"We thought if we can achieve and succeed to resolve all or part of these issues, that will make all of the parties to come to the table and start discussing more serious issues. We were willing to do that," the ambassador pointed out.

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Anwar Gargash, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, which is a part of the coalition, wrote on Twitter in September, after a meeting with Griffiths, that Abu Dhabi would fully support UN proposals for new peace talks on Yemen.

Yemeni Ambassador also said that the international community should channel aid through the Central Bank of Yemen in order to help plummeting rial and replenish the hard currency reserves.

"I think the only thing that we need from the international community that they can channel and wire their aids through the Central Bank of Yemen, that would help the rial and would help the Yemeni government to rebuild the reserves of the hard currency," Mubarak said.

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The exchange rate of the Yemeni rial to the US dollar has recently halved compared to prewar figure, which resulted in a sharp increase in prices of goods and services in the Middle Eastern country. At present, the official exchange rate is over 250 Yemeni rials to one US dollar.

When asked what steps the Yemeni government is taking to stabilize the situation around rial, Mubarak suggested that the authorities were taking various actions in the area.

"First, we succeeded to get new grant from the Saudis, $200 million, before that two billion as a deposit," the ambassador explained, adding that the two countries also established a joint economic commission. The Yemeni government has managed to control the fall of the rial rate, the diplomat noted.

Saudi media reported Tuesday that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had ordered to donate $200 million to the Central Bank of Yemen to support the country's economy against the backdrop of the Yemeni national currency collapse provoked by the ongoing military action in the country.

Yemen has been engulfed in an armed conflict between the government forces led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi rebels for several years. The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request since March 2015.

UN figures show that between March 2015 and August 2018, 6,660 civilians were killed and 10,563 injured in Yemen. The United Nations notes, however, that the real figures are likely to be significantly higher.

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