middle east

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths visits Tehran for talks on Yemen


The United Nations special envoy to Yemen began a two-day visit to Iran for the first on Sunday to meet with senior Iranian officials to discuss the on-going conflict.

Martin Griffiths will meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif as part of the diplomatic efforts to reach a political solution in Yemen that has seen instability since 2011.

Griffiths’ priorities during the meetings will focus on reaching a ceasefire in all parts of Yemen, enforcing urgent humanitarian measures and the resumption of the political process, the UN said in a press release.

Iran agreed to the visit after several discussions between both sides, a source close to the UN office in Amman told Arab News. The capital of Jordan was announced in 2017 as the headquarters of the office of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen.

Griffiths’ spokeswoman, Ismini Palla, told Reuters the visit had been planned for some time, adding it comes at a time when he is trying to bring together more diplomatic, regional and international support to his efforts to end the war.

Last month UN experts accused Iranian entities and individuals of supplying the Houthis with weapons. The annual report by sanctions monitors stated: “There is a growing body of evidence that shows that individuals or entities within Iran are engaged in sending weapons and weapons components to the Houthis.”

“The Iranian regime and its proxy have continued to demonstrate their fierce and ruthless strategy through acts of terror,” Iranian-American political scientist, Majid Rafizadeh said.

Griffiths visit to Tehran also comes just days after US President Joe Biden announced the appointment of Timothy Lenderking as his special envoy for Yemen in a bid to step up American diplomacy “to end the war in Yemen.”

“The appointment of a US Special Envoy, coupled with attention the Biden Administration has dedicated to the Yemen file in the first 30 days, prompted Griffiths to resume efforts to revive consultations with regional and local actors,” Yemen and Gulf anaylist Ibrahim Jalal told Arab News.

Jalal, who is a non-resident scholar at The Middle East Institute, also believes the envoy’s visit to Iran marks “a continuation of his efforts to engage influential regional actors.”

Meanwhile, several European ambassadors to Yemen visited the southern port of Aden, the interim capital of the country, on Saturday as officials reported that the Houthis were raising obstacles during the prisoner swap talks in Amman.

Yemen’s foreign minister, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, discussed with the ambassadors the Riyadh Agreement, Houthi resistance to repairing the Safer tanker, the government’s efforts to restore services in the liberated provinces and the government willingness to reach a “real, comprehensive and lasting” peace in Yemen.

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