ADEN/DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia and its adversaries in Yemen’s armed Houthi movement are holding secret talks to try to end a three-year-old war that has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, diplomats and Yemeni political sources said.
A Saudi-led coalition is fighting to counter the influence of Riyadh’s arch-foe Iran, an ally of the Houthis, who deny any help from Tehran and say they are fighting a revolution against corrupt politicians and Gulf powers in thrall to the West.
Speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, two diplomats and two Yemeni officials said the Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam had been in direct communication with Saudi officials in Oman on a comprehensive solution to the conflict.
“There are consultations between the Houthis and the Saudis, without a representative of the internationally recognised government, and it is clear that there is a desire of the Houthis and the coalition to go toward a comprehensive agreement,” one diplomat told Reuters.
A coalition official denied that Saudi Arabia had any negotiations with the Houthis, and reaffirmed support, in a statement to Reuters, for U.N. peace efforts aimed at reaching a political solution. Houthi officials did not provide an official comment.
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