UAE prince visits Saudi, urges dialogue to solve Yemen tensions

Dubai (AFP) –


Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince visited Saudi Arabia on Monday and called for dialogue to resolve tensions in Yemen, after deadly clashes there between government loyalists and UAE-backed forces.

The fighting in Yemen's second city Aden pitted Saudi-backed government forces against the UAE-trained Security Belt Force, both of which have been fighting Huthi rebels since 2015.

While both are technically supported by a Saudi and Emirati-dominated military coalition, the Security Belt is largely made up of fighters who oppose President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and seek an independent south Yemen.

Speaking after meeting Saudi Arabia's King Salman near Mecca on Monday, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan said dialogue was "the only way to resolve differences between Yemenis".

In a statement carried by the Emirates' official WAM news agency, the crown prince during his brief visit backed a Saudi call for an urgent meeting between the warring parties, saying it "embodies the common concern for Yemen's stability".

Prince Mohammed also urged Yemeni factions to "seize this opportunity, and carry out talks to reach a consensus that is in the best interest of Yemen and its people."

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also attended the meeting, held separate talks with his Emirati counterpart, according to a Saudi foreign ministry tweet.

They "reviewed the close relations between the two brotherly countries", the situation in Yemen and "the various efforts towards achieving security and stability", it said.

Last week's fighting, which saw the Security Belt force seize Aden's presidential palace and army camps, threatened to open a new front in a complex civil war which has devastated the Arab world's poorest nation.

Yemen's government has accused the UAE and the separatist Southern Transitional Council, which is supported by many Security Belt fighters, of staging a "coup" against it.

Yemen's government nominally takes Aden as its temporary capital but Hadi is based in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has called for dialogue and a ceasefire, which both the Yemeni government and separatists have said they support.

Since 2015, fighting between the Huthis and Yemeni loyalists backed by the Saudi-led coalition has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, aid agencies say.

The country is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis because of the raging conflict, according to the United Nations which estimates that almost 80 percent of Yemenis are in need of assistance.