Iranian, Swedish diplomats discuss Yemen crisis in Tehran

July 14, 2021 - 2:4

TEHRAN – A senior Iranian diplomat has met with a Swedish diplomat in charge of following the crisis in Yemen.

Sweden's Special Envoy for Yemen Peter Semneby held talks with Ali-Asghar Khaji, the Iranian foreign minister's senior advisor in special political affairs, on Monday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.

During the meeting, which was also attended by the Swedish ambassador to Tehran, the latest developments in domestic and foreign fields of Yemen were reviewed.

The two sides also exchanged views on the grounds for mutual cooperation between Tehran and Stockholm in order to help resolve the Yemen crisis and ways to immediately end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The Swedish envoy's latest regional consultations and Iran's efforts to help lift the blockade against the people of Yemen, the establishment of a ceasefire and the peace process as well as eliminating the oil spill risk associated with the FSO Safer oil tanker were among the main issues discussed by Khaji and Semneby.

The Yemen crisis began in 2015 when Saudi Arabia attacked the Arab country to eradicate what the Saudis call Iranian influence. The war continued to rage on even though the Saudis failed to unseat the Ansarallah-led government in Sanaa.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has been entangled in one of its worst wars against Yemen. After years of bombardment, Saudi Arabia not only failed to oust the Sanaa-based government, but it also was unable to prevent the Yemenis from mounting retaliatory attacks inside its territory. Facing a well-organized popular resistance in Yemen, the Saudis blamed their failure on Iran, accusing it of providing weaponry to its Yemeni allies.

This is while Iran has sought to soothe the situation in Yemen by supporting a political solution to the war. To this end, several Iranian diplomats, including Khaji, made efforts to put an end to the war in Yemen.

In early May, Khaji and Semneby met online to discuss the latest developments in Yemen and possible solutions to the Arab country's crisis.

They reviewed the latest developments in the peace process in the war-hit Arab country.

The Iranian and Swedish diplomats stressed the need for closer consultations and cooperation between Tehran and Stockholm to reach a political solution to the crisis in Yemen.

They also talked about the results of Semneby's recent visits to Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, and Yemen. The discussions about Yemen held during Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's recent regional tour, and the consultations to draft a peace deal for Yemen.

In mid-June, Khaji also paid a visit to Oman to discuss the Yemen war.  He visited Muscat and met with Omani Foreign Minister Badr Al Busaidi. In the meeting, Khaji and Al Busaidi discussed the latest developments in bilateral relations, the Yemen developments, and regional issues, according to a statement put out by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

“The Iranian official elaborated on Tehran's latest efforts to resolve humanitarian issues and stop the war in the country, and welcomed Oman's move to dispatch a delegation to Sana'a and its efforts to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the crisis in cooperation with the UN. The Omani foreign minister, in turn, described his country's efforts on the Yemen crisis as a step to stop the current humanitarian disaster in Yemen and contribute to the region's stability. He also stressed Iran's effective role in regional developments,” the statement said.

During his trip to Muscat, Khaji also met Sheikh Khalifa Al-Harthy, the deputy foreign minister of Oman for political affairs. During the meeting, the two sides discussed “in detail” the latest developments in Yemen, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry statement.

Iran has long denied any military involvement in the Yemen war and expressed its readiness to facilitate a political solution to the crisis. The Saudis began listening to the Iranian calls only most recently, giving the green light to their security officials to meet their Iranian counterparts in the Iraqi capital.

In parallel with the Baghdad talks, Iran intensified its efforts to bring peace to Yemen. Before heading to Oman, Khaji met with the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths to discuss the latest developments in Yemen.

In the meeting, the two sides conferred on the latest political and on-the-ground situation in Yemen, especially the recent visit of Griffiths to Sana'a, the developments in Ma'rib province, the need for the removal of economic siege against the Yemeni people, and the ways to establish peace and stability in the country.

Griffiths and Khaji also conferred on the elimination of the possible risk of oil spill from the FSO Safer oil tanker.
Khaji presented Iran's initiative to eliminate the oil spill and environmental pollution risk, and said Tehran is still ready to help establish peace in Yemen.

The UN envoy, in turn, presented a report on his visits to the region, and elaborated on the UN's efforts to settle the Yemen crisis.

Earlier, Griffiths also met with Foreign Minister Zarif during a visit to Tehran. He held talks with Zarif on various aspects of the Yemen crisis and the ways to achieve peace and stability in the country.

During his meeting with the UN envoy, Zarif elaborated on Iran's viewpoint on ending the Yemen crisis, the developments following the beginning of the crisis in the country, and underlined the need to remove the blockade against the country and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people, according to a statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Zarif expounded on Iran's principled policy that war is not a solution to the Yemen crisis, and said the current disastrous situation in Yemen - which has put the Yemeni people on the verge of a humanitarian disaster after six years - can only be wound up through political talks and peaceful ways.

Griffiths paid a visit to Iran after failing to make headway on the Yemen peace talks. He said in late May that he was frustrated over the lack of progress in the Yemen peace talks.

“Nobody can be more frustrated than I am,” Griffiths said. “We have spent a year and a half on things which are relatively simple to describe, the cease-fire, the opening of Sanaa airport, the opening of Hodeida ports, the much-delayed start of the political negotiations.”

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