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Iran backs Yemen ceasefire after talks with Houthi spokesman

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Moscow, Russia on January 26, 2021 [Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout - Anadolu Agency]
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Moscow, Russia on January 26, 2021 [Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout - Anadolu Agency]

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has met with the spokesman for the Houthi movement, Mohammed Abdul Salam. The meeting took place yesterday during Zarif's visit to Oman.

The minister reiterated Tehran's support for a ceasefire in Yemen and an end to the six-year war. A statement issued by his ministry said that Iran's senior diplomat "once again stressed our country's view regarding the political solution being the only solution to the crisis of Yemen." Zarif, it added, "emphasised our country's support for a ceasefire and Yemeni-Yemeni talks."

Saudi Arabia had proposed a "comprehensive" ceasefire and a return to the negotiating table. However, the Houthi-led government based in Sanaa rejected it immediately, saying that a blockade on the country must be lifted first.

READ: Saudi offers Houthis economic support in exchange for halting attacks on the kingdom

Zarif's meeting with the Houthi spokesman was one of several over the past few years between the two in the Omani capital, where Abdul Salam lives. The minister's arrival in Muscat followed visits to Qatar and Iraq. He also met with his Omani counterpart, Sayyid Badr Bin Hamad, to discuss bilateral and regional issues.

According to the Arab Weekly, it has been speculated that Zarif's visits to Doha, Baghdad and Muscat — all which have good relations with Tehran – are a possible precursor to restoring ties with Saudi Arabia. On Tuesday, the Kingdom's de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, said during a televised interview that his country wanted "good relations" with Iran amid reports that the arch-rivals had held secret talks in Baghdad.

It has been denied by a senior Saudi official that such a meeting took place. "Iran is a neighbouring country, and all we aspire for is a good and special relationship with it," the Saudi crown prince said.

READ: Iran FM won't give up pledge to protect country's interests

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