US Blinken, Saudi foreign minister discuss Yemen, human rights

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Friday discussed issues ranging from regional security to human rights and the war in Yemen, the State Department said on Saturday, according to a report by Reuters.

The discussion between Blinken and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud took place on the same day that the United States said it intended to revoke a terrorist designation for Yemen’s Houthi movement – against which a Saudi-led coalition is fighting – in response to Yemen’s humanitarian crisis.

“The secretary outlined several key priorities of the new administration, including elevating human rights issues and ending the war in Yemen,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

The new administration of President Joe Biden has said it would cut off US support for a Saudi-backed campaign in Yemen and step up diplomacy to end the war through the appointment of a Yemen envoy.

Washington said it expects Riyadh to improve its human rights record.

The US and Saudi officials also talked about counterterrorism and cooperation to deter attacks against Saudi Arabia, Price said.

The discussion, which took place by phone, was the first to occur between the two men, the Saudi state news agency SPA said earlier on Saturday.

The foreign minister congratulated Blinken on his appointment last week and said the kingdom hopes to work with the United States to face common challenges and maintain regional stability, SPA said.

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Blinken’s first call to a Gulf state since assuming his new role was to the United Arab Emirates’ minister of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.

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