U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Tuesday for a cessation of hostilities in Yemen and said U.N.-led negotiations to end the civil war should begin next month.
In a statement, Pompeo said missile and drone strikes by Iran-allied Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should stop, and the Saudi-led coalition must cease air strikes in all populated areas of Yemen.
Yemen is one of the poorest Arab countries and faces the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by a nearly four-year-old war that pits the Houthis against the internationally recognized government backed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the West.
“The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” Pompeo said, using an acronym for unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Subsequently, Coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen,” he added.
The United States helps the coalition by refueling its jets and providing training in targeting. Pompeo said last month that he had certified to the U.S. Congress that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were working to reduce civilian casualties in Yemen.
Three-quarters of Yemen’s population, or 22 million people, require aid and 8.4 million people are on the brink of starvation.