Senior U.S. diplomat met with Yemen’s Houthi rebels

In a move to secure the release of American hostages, senior U.S. diplomats met with Yemen’s Houthi rebels last week. The meeting took place in the capital Oman in an attempt to come up with political solutions to the country’s conflict.

The U.S. State Department learned on Monday the American journalist Casey Coombs was in good health and being held in the capital. There are still three other Americans believed to be held by Houthi rebels. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said of the meeting:

“‘We used that meeting to reinforce our view that there can only be a political solution to the conflict in Yemen, and that all parties, including the Houthi, should commit to participation in the U.N.-led political process'”

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near-Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson led the meetings in Yemen. Jordan and Saudi Arabia were also on her travel itinerary as part of her efforts to negotiate a cease-fire in Yemen.

The conflict is between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition of Arab states who want to restore the power to exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Patterson also met with Hadi and other Yemeni officials in Riyadh.

The recent conflict started in March when the Saudi-led coalition bombed Houthi militia in an attempt to restore power to Hadi. Since then the conflict has taken the lives of more than 2,000 Yemenis.   

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke with Iranian officials about the Yemen conflict. The discussion took place briefly during the nuclear talks in Geneva.

Harf does not believe the hostages were discussed at this time.

[Reuters]