Yemen: UN welcomes Houthi vow to cease missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia

21 September 2019, 20:57 | Updated: 21 September 2019, 21:55

The United Nations' envoy for Yemen has welcomed the Houthi rebels' vow that they will stop attacking Saudi Arabia, saying it "could send a powerful message of the will to end the war" in the country.

Martin Griffiths called on all parties in the four-year conflict to take advantage of the opportunity it offered and urged further action to "reduce violence, military escalation and unhelpful rhetoric".

Friday's statement by Mahdi al-Mashat, head of the Houthi's supreme political council, that the group will cease missile and drone attacks on its much larger neighbour to the north, warned that continuing the war could lead to "dangerous developments".

It came nearly a week after rebels claimed they were behind drone and cruise missile strikes that crippled the Khurais oil field and Abqaiq oil processing facility in eastern Saudi Arabia, a key part of the country's oil production infrastructure.

The Saudis and their allies in Washington blamed the attack on Iran, prompting US President Donald Trump on Friday to impose further sanctions on Tehran for what his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, described as an "act of war".

Mr Trump said he wanted to avoid all-out war and believed showing restraint "shows far more strength".

The Iranians have denied any involvement, but that has made little impact in Riyadh, as the country's minister for foreign affairs said on Saturday it will do whatever it takes to defend itself against Iran.

In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said: "We have a responsibility to defined our country and to ensure that no harm comes to our country and our peoples."

Tens of thousands of people have died in the Yemen civil war since 2015, a conflict seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, which supports the Yemeni government and its rival for Middle East supremacy, Iran, which backs the Houthi rebels.

On Saturday, Houthis in Yemen gathered to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their forces' capture of the capital city, Sanaa.