Riyadh: British Prime Minister Theresa May is to visit Saudi Arabia for talks on Wednesday with its assertive crown prince over the kingdom-led war in Yemen, the second European leader to specifically seek him out as he amasses power.
May’s visit is expected to include her asking Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to allow humanitarian aid through Yemen’s port of Hodeida, which is held by Iran-backed Al Houthi rebels.
Saudi Arabia says the port is being used by Iran to smuggle in weapons to Al Houthis.
Earlier this month the militants launched a missile towards Riyadh which was intercepted, but Saudi Arabia called it ‘an act of war’
A UN-chartered aid vessel docked at Hodeida on Tuesday.
“We are very clear that we want to see full humanitarian and commercial access through the port of Hodeida,” May said Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia closed off Yemen’s seaports and airports in response to the ballistic-missile launch but Saudi Arabia later promised it would reopen the ports for humanitarian aid.
May’s visit comes after French President Emmanuel Macron made a surprise visit to the kingdom earlier this month as well, to meet Prince Mohammad.
May also will visit Jordan and meet with King Abdullah II on her trip.
Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi came to power in early 2012 after massive Arab Spring protests ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Hadi was forced to decamp to the city of Aden after escaping Al Houthi-imposed house arrest after the rebels took over the government in a coup in 2014.
Since then, Hadi has shifted government headquarters to Aden from where he has led an offensive to liberate Al Houthi-occupied territories.
With help from the Saudi-led Arab coalition, the Yemeni army has achieved widespread gains in many provinces, but Al Houthis still control the capital, Sana’a, and most northern provinces including Hodeida, Ibb, Mahweet, Yareem, Amran, Baydha and Hajja