U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said at the start of a week-long Middle East tour that Washington wants a return “as quickly as possible” to UN-backed peace talks on Yemen.
Mattis made the remark in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, on April 18 when a reporter asked whether Washington will increase its military support for a Saudi-led coalition that is backing Yemen’s Sunni government in its fight against Iranian-backed Shi’ite Huthi rebels.
Washington currently provides intelligence and aerial refueling for coalition warplanes that conduct air strikes in Yemen with U.S.-supplied weapons.
Mattis is scheduled to meet with Saudi Arabia’s top leaders in Riyadh on April 19.
The Pentagon has said that Mattis this week wants to reaffirm “key U.S. military alliances, engage with strategic partners in the Middle East and Africa, and discuss cooperative efforts to counter destabilizing activities and defeat extremist terror organizations.
In addition to Saudi Arabia, he is scheduled to visit Egypt, Israel, Qatar, and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.