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UN envoy makes first visit to Iran to push for peace in Yemen

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, center, and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, during a new round of talks by Yemen's warring parties in Amman, Jordan, February 5, 2019. (Raad Adayleh/AP)
United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, center, and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, during a new round of talks by Yemen's warring parties in Amman, Jordan, February 5, 2019. (Raad Adayleh/AP)

The United Nations special envoy for Yemen has arrived on his first visit to Iran for talks on the grinding war in the Arab world’s poorest country, Iranian state TV reports.

Martin Griffiths is set to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other officials during his two-day visit, his office says. The sessions are part of a broader effort to negotiate a political solution to the nearly six-year conflict pitting Iran-allied Houthi rebels against Yemeni government forces supported by a Saudi-led military coalition.

The trip comes just days after US President Joe Biden announced that his country will end its support, including some arms sales, for the Saudi-led coalition’s war against the Houthis. The long-awaited move refocused a spotlight on the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and was welcomed by many Yemenis and aid groups that hope the policy change might add to momentum for peace talks.

Griffiths’ “immediate priority” in Tehran is to push a nationwide ceasefire, urgent humanitarian measures and the resumption of the political process, his office adds. Those goals repeatedly have proved elusive over years of ruinous war that have left the country deeply divided. The visit was planned long before Biden’s announcement, Griffiths’ spokeswoman Ismini Palla says.

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