The Biden administration’s national security adviser is traveling to Saudi Arabia on Monday for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to try to bring an end to the seven-year war between the kingdom and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to a report.
Along with the crown prince, Jake Sullivan is expected to sit down with the royal’s brother, deputy defense minister Khalid bin Salman, the Associated Press reported.
The White House’s efforts to bring about a ceasefire in the war-torn country cannot happen without face-to-face meetings with top Saudi officials, a senior administration official told the AP.
National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne announced in a statement Monday that Sullivan will travel to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to meet with “senior leaders on a range of regional and global challenges.”
Accompanying him on the trip will be Brett McGurk, the National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, and Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen, Horne said.
Fighting in Yemen, which has been ongoing since 2014, has become more intense recently and the situation on the ground has deteriorated even further.
The Houthi rebels overthrew the Yemeni government and are now fighting a coalition of Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia.
More than a million people have been displaced and more than 100,000 people have been killed since the conflict began, the Council on Foreign Relations estimates.
There have also been reports of famine, shortages of medicine and widespread human rights abuses on both sides.
Ceasefire talks brokered by the United Nations failed.
The UN special envoy to Yemen, Hans Grunberg, said Yemen is “stuck in an indefinite state of war” and expressed pessimism about negotiations to end the conflict.
The Biden administration in February released a report by the CIA that implicated the crown prince, known by his initials MBS, in the death of Saudi national and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
And while the administration slapped sanctions and tightened visa restrictions on Saudi officials involved in Khashoggi’s death, MSB escaped direct punishment.
The Biden administration has also ended US support for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen.