Kerry in Saudi Arabia for Meetings on Yemen War Impasse

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for meetings with the kingdom’s senior royals and other Gulf officials for talks focusing on Yemen’s stalled peace process, reported Military Times.

Kerry arrived in Jeddah from Nigeria, for discussions with Saudi leaders and other Gulf Arab states and will also update them on U.S. meetings with Russia addressing military cooperation in Syria, a senior U.S. official said ahead of the talks to Reuters.

Kerry’s first meetings in Jiddah on Wednesday evening was with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi Arabia’s defense minister.

Kerry will meet Saudi King Salman later on Thursday. Afterwards, he will join the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and British Under-Secretary for the Foreign Office Tobias Ellwood, to explore ways to end Yemen’s 16-month conflict, which has killed about 6,500 people, half of them civilians.

The American State Department said the multilateral meeting is for participants to share ideas about “getting the political discussions back on track” in order to end the violence, specially that there has been growing concern in Washington that the Saudi campaign may have targeted civilian installations including hospitals.

“Kerry will raise our concerns about civilian casualties and damage to civilian targets inside Yemen,” a U.S. official said, adding that he would press the Saudis to ensure air strikes were “discriminate and precise.”

An annual United Nations report on children and armed conflict said the Saudi-led campaign was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year. Saudi Arabia has said the report is based on inaccurate information.

On Thursday, Kerry is scheduled to meet the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, before taking part in joint talks with Saudi and Emirati officials, as well as a senior British diplomat.

Kerry will also hold talks with the foreign ministers of neighboring Arab Gulf countries and discuss the conflicts in Libya and Syria, as well as counter terrorism efforts.