UK’s Johnson asks Oman to broker deal with Iran

TEHRAN, Jan. 26 (MNA) – According to regional media, UK Foreign Secretary Johnson has asked the Omani Sultan Qaboos to mediate between KSA and Iran to speed up efforts to end Saudi war against Yemen.

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson discussed ways to end Yemen's war and to save the Iran nuclear deal during talks with Oman's ruler on Thursday, according to The National.

Mr. Johnson's visit to Muscat was his second since December and his first stop on a two-day visit to the region that also takes him to Saudi Arabia.

Omani state media said only that Mr. Johnson's discussions with Sultan Qaboos focused on “stability in the region” but officials close to the talks said both leaders agreed on the need to end the Saudi war against as soon as possible.

“The main focus of Mr. Johnson’s Persian Gulf visit is to give peace a genuine chance through negotiations on the Yemeni conflict. The Sultan of Oman has agreed with that concept and promised he would do all he could to support discussions that would end aggressions in Yemen,” an Omani official said.

British diplomats in Muscat said Mr. Johnson would convey the results of his talks with Sultan Qaboos to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, where he was scheduled to arrive later on Thursday.

“Johnson said he would carry the essence of the discussions he had with the Sultan to Prince Mohammed. It will form the basis of talks to try to put Saudi Arabia on the same wavelength to end military actions in Yemen," a diplomat said.

It is around 3 years that Saudi Arabia, hand-in-hand with the UAE, is bombarding Yemeni civilians and keeping the war-ravaged country under strict siege under the pretext of efforts to reinstate the former president of the impoverished country.

 “Johnson sees Oman as crucial to broker a deal with the Iranians to fix flaws in the nuclear deal regarding Iran’s current ballistic missile program," the diplomat said, adding that Oman would be expected to get Iran to agree to "control the Houthis in Yemen”.

According to US and Saudi propaganda, Iran is supplying missiles to Yemenis while Iran says that when a country is so strictly under siege that no food, medicine, fuel, and water can be delivered to its people, it is surely impossible to deliver missiles.

Saudi Arabia announced in early December that it would reopen Yemen’s port of Hudaydah under mounting international pressure. The port city has been blockaded since November when Yemenis fired a retaliatory missile toward the Saudi capital Riyadh.

More than 32,000 people in Yemen have been forced to flee their homes in a time span of two months, the United Nations says, due to the continued campaign led by Saudi Arabia that has also claimed thousands of lives.

In total, the UN says, around two million Yemenis have been displaced due to the Saudi war since early 2015.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) warned in a statement on Thursday that an increase in airstrikes paired with deadly weather had made the dire situation worse in conflict-stricken Yemen.

UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said the intensified attacks in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, as well as the provinces of Hudaydah on the Red Sea, and oil-rich Shabwa in the south, had led to a new wave of displacements.

The airstrikes disrupt access to humanitarian aid for the suffering Yemeni people. 

Yemen faces all kinds of shortage, including that of water, food and medicine.

"The latest violence has further exacerbated the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million people, around three quarters of the total population, in need of humanitarian assistance," the UNHCR said.

Earlier the UNHCR had announced that 6.8 million, meaning almost one in four people, did not have enough food and relied entirely on external assistance.

According to aid agencies, poor access to healthcare, clean water and sanitation put more people at risk of life-threatening diseases.

Mirella Hodeib, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the situation in Yemen "provided the optimal conditions for the growth and re-emergence of communicable diseases" such as malaria, diphtheria and cholera.

While Yemen is already battling a million suspected cholera cases and a diphtheria outbreak, the World Health Organization estimated that malaria cases alone rose in 2016 to 433,000 from 336,000 in 2015.

More than 13,600 people have been killed since the onset of the Saudi-led war on Yemen in March 2015.

YNG/ 4210196

News Code 131621


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