By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud discussed a series of bilateral and regional issued Wednesday, including Iran and increased hostilities in Yemen.
Pompeo and al-Saud addressed "the continued need to counter the Iranian regime’s destabilizing behavior," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement issued after the meeting.
"The Secretary underscored the importance of the U.S.-Saudi partnership in confronting the Iranian regime’s threats," she said. " The Secretary and the Foreign Minister expressed their concern over the recent violence in Yemen, including Houthi cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia, and they agreed on the need to swiftly return to de-escalation."
Pompeo further expressed his support for a political solution to the conflict in Yemen being facilitated by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
An agreement signed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last year between the separatist Southern Transitional Council and the internationally-recognized Yemeni government includes the return of the government to the temporary capital of Aden and the merging of all military groups under the Ministries of Defense and Interior.
The council has the backing of the United Arab Emirates.
Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Iran-backed Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains that has worsened an already dire humanitarian situation in the country.
Since then, tens of thousands of Yemenis, including numerous civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, while another 14 million are at risk of starvation, according to the UN.