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US officials meet with Yemen’s Houthis

Newly emerged reports speculated that US officials held talks with the Iranian-backed group’s members in the Omani capital Muscat on February 26.

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The first direct meeting between US officials and Houthi members happened in Oman, two sources which spoke to Reuters said. The negotiation was conducted between the US Special Envoy for Yemen Timothy Lenderking and the Houthi group’s chief negotiator Mohammed Abdusalam, the sources added. This meeting came as the new US administration accelerated its attempts to bring an end to the six-year war in Yemen.

Within the scope of the US attempts, Timothy Lenderking launched a series of visits which are expected to end on March 3, to the Gulf states last week. During his travel, he came together with high-level officials of Gulf countries. Lenderking met the Houthi representative after his meeting with Saudi and UN officials in Riyadh. Leaked information stated that Lenderking pressured the Houthis to stop its offensive towards Marib city and negotiate with Saudi Arabia in the ongoing virtual talks on a ceasefire.

In his early days at the office, US President Biden said the war in Yemen has to end. In this line, the Biden administration took steps including stopping US support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and reversing the previous administration’s decision to put the Houthis on the terror list. Also, the US Treasury Department announced that two leading Houthi commanders were sanctioned that were alleged to have organized attacks which have been worsening the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

There has been no official statement from either side regarding the meeting yet.

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