White House aide discusses Yemen with Saudi crown prince

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman smiles during a televised interview in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 27, 2021. Picture taken April 27, 2021. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, had a detailed discussion about the war in Yemen on Tuesday in a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a senior administration official said.

The war, in which a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis, has devastated Yemen's economy and depleted foreign exchange reserves in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation, which imports the bulk of its goods.

Sullivan is on a trip this week to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates along with the U.S. special envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking and Biden Middle East envoy Brett McGurk.

Sullivan met in Saudi Arabia with the crown prince as well as Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman, Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, National Guard Minister Abdullah bin Bandar, among others.

"They had a detailed discussion of Yemen conflict, and both parties endorsed the efforts of the new UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg and agreed to intensify diplomatic engagement with all relevant parties. Special Envoy Lenderking will remain in the region to follow up on the detailed discussions," the official said.

The United Nations has described the situation in war-torn Yemen as the world's largest humanitarian crisis. Seven years of fighting have also plunged the nation into an economic crisis, triggering food shortages.

The official also said Sullivan thanked the crown prince for "Saudi Arabia’s hospitality in permitting thousands of at-risk Afghans to transit through Saudi territory" during Biden's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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