US demands Saudi Arabia halt Yemen air strikes

US demands Saudi Arabia halt Yemen air strikes
The US has demanded that Saudi Arabia halt military action in Yemen, in a new push for peace in the country.
2 min read
31 October, 2018
Yemen's war has plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis [AFP]

Saudi Arabia should immediately halt air strikes on populated areas in Yemen, US officials have said, with both sides in the war under pressure to call a truce in fighting.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the Houthi rebels, UAE and Saudi Arabia should pause fighting and begin negotiations on a possible peace deal.

"The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV (drone) strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Subsequently, coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in," Pompeo said in a statement.

Pompeo also said the US was also embarking on a new push for peace in Yemen, where as many as 50,000 have died and the country has been plunged into a major humanitarian crisis.

"Substantive consultations under the UN special envoy must commence this November in a third country to implement confidence-building measures to address the underlying issues of the conflict, the demilitarisation of borders, and the concentration of all large weapons under international observation," he said.

Although Pompeo did not mention the "third country", US Defence Secretary James Mattis mentioned Sweden earlier.

"We have got to move towards a peace effort here, and we can't say we are going to do it sometime in the future. We need to be doing this in the next 30 days," Mattis said, saying the US had been watching the crisis for "long enough".

Numerous negotiations between the two sides have broken down, but the new announcement brings hope that the US will pressure its allies to agree to a halt in air strikes will be welcomed in Yemen.

Over the past few months, the US has said little about the war, which has led to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

On Tuesday it was reported that the real death toll in Yemen was likely five times higher than the official count given.

Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) said that at least 56,000 people have died in killed in the Yemen war, a figure much higher than the 10,000 figure given by most news agencies.

The country has also been plunged into a humanitarian crisis with famine and disease threatening to smother the country.

France's Defence Minister Florence Parly also called for an end to Yemen war on Tuesday.

"It is more than time that this war ended and it is also important - even France's priority - that the humanitarian situation must improve and that humanitarian aid can get through," Parly said.

Agencies contributed to this story.