John Kerry : We Offer Houthis an Opportunity to Have Confidence in the Government

Saudi King Salman (R) meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia August 25, 2016. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Thursday a fresh international peace initiative for Yemen aimed at forming a unity government to resolve the conflict in which the Saudi Kingdom has launched thousands of air strikes in favor of the exiled government, reported Reuters.

“This war needs to end and it needs to end as quickly as possible,” Kerry said after a meeting in Saudi Arabia with Gulf counterparts, a British minister and the UN peace envoy to Yemen.

He also said that the participants “agreed on a renewed approach to negotiations” between the Saudi-backed government and Iran-supported Shiite rebels, after three months of talks in Kuwait that ended earlier in August without headway.

Kerry outlined a plan which offers the Houthis participation in government in exchange for an end to violence and a surrender of weapons.

“This is a proposal that offers the Houthis an opportunity to have confidence in the government structure. Houthis must cease shelling across the border with Saudi Arabia, pull back from the capital Sanaa which they took control of two years ago, cede their weapons and enter into a unity government with their domestic foes”, outlined Kerry, according to Military.

The Huthis had been demanding a unity government as the first step towards resolving Yemen’s war.

But the internationally backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi wanted a rebel pullout from seized territory, including the capital Sanaa, and a surrender of weapons, as the first steps, in line with a UN Security Council resolution on the crisis.

Kerry also lashed out at Iran over alleged arms shipments to the rebels.

“The threat potentially posed by the shipment of missiles and other sophisticated weapons into Yemen from Iran extends well beyond Yemen and is not a threat just to Saudi Arabia and the region,” Kerry told reporters, adding “It is a threat to the United States and it cannot continue.”

The new push for peace will have “both a security and political track simultaneously working in order to provide a comprehensive settlement”, said Kerry, adding that Gulf states had “agreed unanimously with this new initiative”.

In fact, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, said Riyadh had been “extremely careful and cautious” in trying to avoid non-combatant casualties.

We managed to come out with a vision related to a roadmap for Yemen, which the U.N. envoy had discussed with us so there will be clarity on the final settlement which the U.N. envoy will discuss with the Yemeni parties,” Jubeir told the news conference.