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‘INTERFERENCES IN YEMEN COULD WORSEN CRISIS’ – Kuwait lauds Iran readiness to talk

RIYADH, Feb 8, (Agencies): Kuwait has welcomed Iran’s willingness for dialogue with its Gulf Arab neighbours, saying any talks are likely to help resolve civil wars in Syria and Yemen, according to Kuwaiti state news agency KUNA. Iran and US ally Saudi Arabia, which dominates the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), back opposite sides in Syria and Yemen. US President Donald Trump has added extra strain by ratcheting up pressure on Iran over its missile programme.

Saudi Arabia and other members of the GCC accuse Iran of using sectarianism to interfere in Arab countries and expand its sphere of influence in the Middle East. Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Suleiman Al- Jarallah, responding to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s comments that his country was ready for dialogue with the GCC, said: “It’s what we’re looking for”.

Such a dialogue would “contribute effectively to containment of many areas of tension in the region, whether in Yemen or in Syria or anywhere else in our region,” KUNA quoted Jarallah as saying at a reception at the Iran’s embassy in Kuwait. Referring to a letter sent in January to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani by Kuwait’s His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on the “basis for dialogue” between the six-member GCC and Iran, Zarif said Tehran hoped the message would show that Gulf states were willing “to resolve the issues”.

“In that case, Iran is also ready. We should all look forward and agree that we should aim together for a future that looks different,” Iran’s Ettelaat newspaper quoted Zarif as saying on Tuesday.

Al-Jarallah reaffirmed Tuesday that any foreign interference in the Yemeni affairs could only prolong the crisis and suffering of the Yemeni people. “The interferences of foreign powers could further worsen the already complicated situation in sisterly Yemen,” he said, commenting on recent statement by Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Manour Hadi on Iranian interference in Yemen. Al-Jarallah made the press remarks while attending a celebration at the Embassy of Iran to mark the country’s national day.

The state of Kuwait hosted between April 21 and Aug 6, 2016, the UNsponsored intra-Yemeni peace talks as part of the efforts to reach a mutuallyacceptable settlement to the crisis. Commenting on the call of Russia ambassador to Kuwait for a Russian- Gulf strategic security partnership, Al-Jarallah said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Russia have already a strategic dialogue that could provide ground for taking account of new initiatives.

The coming round of the Russian- GCC strategic dialogue may discuss the viability of the Russian-Gulf partnership and its possible impacts on the interests of both sides, he added. Regarding the relations with Iran, Al-Jarallah noted that Kuwait and Iran enjoy special relationships that are deeply-rooted in history. In other news, Yemeni government forces backed by Gulf Arab troops have secured the Red Sea coast city of al-Mokha, United Arab Emirates news agency WAM reported on Tuesday, in a push that paves the way for an advance on the country’s main port city of Hodeidah.

Supporters of Hadi have been fighting for weeks to capture the small town, which once served as a main port for exporting coffee, from the Iran-aligned Houthi that has held it since early 2015. The advance comes amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran since President Donald Trump came to office in January. US officials said last week that the United States had deployed a Navy destroyer, the USS Cole, to patrol off the coast of Yemen to protect waterways from Houthis, including escorting vessels.

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia entered Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 to try to reinstate Hadi after he was ousted from the capital Sanaa by the tribal Houthis, who are fighting in an alliance with troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. WAM said that local fighters, known as the Yemeni Resistance, stormed the city from the south, east and north. The UAE contingent in the Saudi-led Arab alliance played the main role in liberating al-Mokha through the participation of ground forces and by providing fire power from both the air and the ground as well as intelligence, the agency said. It said that a large number of Houthi fighters were either killed or taken prisoner. Meanwhile, the UN appealed Wednesday for $2.1 billion to provide desperately needed aid to millions of people in war-ravaged Yemen this year, warning the country could soon face famine. “Two years of war have devastated Yemen and millions of children, women and men desperately need our help,” warned UN humanitarian aid chief Stephen O’Brien in a statement. “Without international support, they may face the threat of famine in the course of 2017 and I urge donors to sustain and increase their support to our collective response.”

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