U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has called for a ceasefire in Yemen and the start of peace talks in the next 30 days.
“We want to see everybody around a peace table based on a ceasefire, based on a pullback from the border and then based on ceasing dropping of bombs,” Mattis said Tuesday during a speech at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.
“We have got to move toward 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,” he added.
Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.
‘Time to end this conflict’
Following Mattis’ remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement saying it was “time to end this conflict, replace conflict with compromise, and allow the Yemeni people to heal through peace and reconstruction”.
Pompeo called on all sides to support UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in finding a peaceful solution.
“The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“Subsequently, Coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen,” he said.
Pompeo said substantive consultations under the UN Special Envoy must begin in November in a third country to implement confidence-building measures to address the conflict’s underlying issues, the demilitarization of borders and the concentration of all large weapons under international observation.
“A cessation of hostilities and vigorous resumption of a political track will help ease the humanitarian crisis as well,” he added.