NEW YORK — US top diplomat John Kerry on Monday said he would urge his Iranian counterpart to help ease the violence in Yemen, warning the country’s future should not be decided by “external parties.”
Kerry was due to meet later with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as negotiations on a nuclear deal move into a final phase.
While Kerry stressed that the main thrust of their talks in New York would be on the deal, and a looming June 30 deadline for a comprehensive treaty, he said he was “confident that Yemen will be mentioned certainly, because Iran is obviously a supportive party to the Houthis.”
A coalition of Arab states vowed Monday to coordinate political and military efforts to restore order in Yemen as Saudi-led warplanes launched new air strikes on Shiite Huthi rebels.
The UN Security Council also went into closed-door consultations on the crisis in Yemen and to hear former envoy Jamal Benomar give a final report.
The Moroccan diplomat resigned earlier this month after losing the support of Gulf countries for his mediation efforts as Shiite Houthi rebels pushed their offensive, amid accusations that they are being armed and supported by Iran.
Peace talks for Yemen collapsed after the Houthis captured the capital Sanaa and advanced on the southern city of Aden, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.
“I think it’s important for all parties, all parties, to adhere to international law, to the United Nations resolutions and to get to the negotiating table as fast as possible,” Kerry told a joint press conference with his Japanese counterpart in New York.
“And I will certainly urge that everybody do their part to try to reduce the violence and allow the negotiations to begin.”
The United Nations is working to re-launch peace talks but has run into hurdles over the venue for meetings, with Saudi Arabia insisting that the talks be held in Riyadh.
“Yemen’s future should be decided by Yemenis,” Kerry insisted, adding “all Yemenis have the right to come to the table,” but he said the country’s future “should be decided by Yemenis on both sides of the current dispute not by external parties and proxies.”
Initially the US insisted that the nuclear talks, aimed at reining in Iran’s atomic program, were solely focused on the one issue.
But increasingly, US officials have acknowledged discussing other concerns with Iranian officials, even though the two countries do not have diplomatic relations.