US welcomes halt of Saudi-led airstrikes – Xinhua

WASHINGTON, April 22 (Xinhua) — The White House on Wednesday welcomed the end of Saudi-led airstrikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen, and called for a rapid resumption of talks to resolve the crisis facing the Arab country.

“The United States welcomes the decision by the government of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners to conclude ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ in Yemen,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a written statement.

“With this announcement, we look forward to a shift from military operations to the rapid, unconditional resumption of all-party negotiations that allow Yemen to resume an inclusive political transition process,” she added, voicing support for UN’s role in facilitating the talks.

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the halt of the month-long campaign, just as U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and a guided-missile cruiser pulled into the Gulf of Aden amid reports that several Iranian ships were heading toward Yemen in what U.S. officials believed was an effort to arm the Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi group.

Washington had expedited the delivery of weapons, on top of intelligence sharing and daily aerial refueling, in support of the so-called Operation Decisive Storm launched on March 26 to help stem the advances by the Houthi rebels.

The rebels had overrun much of Yemen in the past few months, including the capital city of Sanaa, and forced pro-West President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee first to the southern port of Aden and then to Saudi Arabia.

Iran also welcomed the halt of the bombing in Yemen.

Battles between the Houthis and tribal militia continued, however, in Yemen’s southern provinces early Wednesday with warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition bombing military targets of the rebels, press reports said.