The top US diplomat for Yemen arrived in Saudi Arabia Tuesday to discuss the ongoing war in Yemen and the “growing consequences of the Houthi offensive on Marib,” the State Department said.
Tim Lenderking is set to meet with senior officials from the Saudi and Yemeni governments as well as UN officials on what is believed to be his eighth trip to the region since being tapped for the role by US President Joe Biden in February.
“Special Envoy Lenderking will discuss the growing consequences of the Houthi offensive on Marib, which is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis and triggering instability elsewhere in the country. The Special Envoy will address the urgent need for efforts by the Republic of Yemen Government and Saudi Arabia to stabilize Yemen’s economy and to facilitate the timely import of fuel to northern Yemen, and the need for the Houthis to end their manipulation of fuel imports and prices inside of Yemen,” the State Department said.
Lenderking is will also meet with “representatives from the international community,” the statement read without elaborating. The US diplomat has previously met with Houthi officials in Oman and elsewhere, although US officials use ambiguous language when asked about these meetings.
Since becoming US president, Biden has increased diplomatic efforts to try to reach a ceasefire in Yemen.
Part of Biden’s strategy was to remove the Iran-backed Houthis from the terror blacklist and lift the Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) label off senior Houthis leaders.
After failing to garner any concessions or positive outcomes from the Houthis, the Biden administration slapped sanctions on Houthi officials shortly after.
The Yemeni government, backed by Saudi Arabia, has repeatedly expressed its willingness to see an end to the yearslong war, which has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world.
But the Houthis have refused to engage in ceasefire talks. The Houthis have rejected a meeting with the UN special envoy for Yemen, escalated an offensive on one of the final government strongholds in the north of Yemen and continuously attack Saudi Arabia with bomb-laden drones and missiles.
Over the weekend, Saudi air defenses intercepted four Houthi militia drones and a ballistic missile targeting the country’s southern region, according to Al Arabiya sources in the Arab coalition.
The US condemned the latest attack.
Sources familiar with Lenderking’s trips to the region have said the Houthis want a ceasefire before discussing any steps or concessions to be made.
“Now is the time to stop the fighting and enable Yemenis to shape a more peaceful, prosperous future for their country,” the State Department said on Tuesday.