The United States’ envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, returned to Washington on Friday after spending eight days in the Gulf region in an attempt to further peace efforts.
This was his fifth tour of the Gulf since his appointment earlier this year.
The US State Department said upon his return that the American administration was determined to resolve the crisis in Yemen, in spite of signs of a rift emerging between the United Nations envoy and the Iran-backed Houthi militias.
The rift prompted the Houthis to refuse to meet with envoy Martin Griffiths in Muscat last week.
In a statement on Friday, the State Department said Lenderking’s tour focused on the need to reach a comprehensive, nationwide ceasefire and move to inclusive political talks. He returned to Washington, however, with the conviction that the Houthis wanted to “worsen the humanitarian situation by continuing to attack Marib and exacerbating dire conditions for already vulnerable, internally displaced Yemenis.”
The statement noted the Houthis’ contradictory pronouncement regarding the humanitarian situation in Yemen and their continued attack on Marib.
“There is a fair deal on the table that will bring immediate relief to Yemeni people,” stressed the State Department. “The Houthis passed up a major opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to peace and to make progress on this proposal by refusing to meet with UN Special Envoy Griffiths in Muscat - especially given the Yemen government’s stated readiness to reach an agreement to end the conflict.”
The statement did not clarify whether Lenderking had met with Houthi officials in Muscat.
On his latest tour, Lenderking visited Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Oman. In Saudi Arabia, he held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, and several Saudi and Yemeni government officials.
In Jordan, he met with King Abdullah II. Lenderking and US Senator Chris Murphy also held a separate meeting with Griffiths and the European Union, German, and UK Ambassadors to Yemen to discuss the urgency of an immediate halt to the Houthi offensive in Marib and the transition to a political process.
In Muscat, Lenderking and Murphy met with Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi. “They all agreed on the need for an immediate ceasefire and committed to work with the parties to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The Omani Foreign Minister and the US Special Envoy expressed their mutual desire to see the Safer oil tanker crisis resolved in order to prevent an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe in the Red Sea.”
On Wednesday, Griffiths concluded a week-long round of meetings with Yemeni, regional and international interlocutors in Saudi Arabia and Oman.
In a statement, he expressed his disappointment with the prolongation of the crisis, saying: “We have been discussing these issues for over a year now. The international community has been supporting us in full force. Unfortunately, we are not where we would like to be in reaching a deal. Meanwhile, the war continued unabated causing immense suffering to the civilian population.”